The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 22, 2009

Charges against twin sisters in Cherokee County dismissed

By Roger McKinney

rmckinney@joplinglobe.com

COLUMBUS, Kan. — Twin sisters Birdie Jo Hoaks and Becky Jo Hoaks apparently have bobbed outside the reach of the long arm of the legal system in Cherokee County.

Birdie Hoaks’ record includes 12 convictions in seven states.

When the FBI was investigating then-Cherokee County Attorney Michael Goodrich in 2007, two of the cases assigned to a special prosecutor were those of the Hoaks sisters.

Then, nothing happened. The sisters left the area.

Now, charges against the sisters have been dismissed because there has been no activity in the cases, and the 37-year-old women are long gone.

The sisters were charged with felony burglary, felony theft and felony property damage, alleging that on Nov. 6, 2006, they broke into the Galena Assembly of God and stole a safe containing $2,400 from an associate pastor’s office.

Then-assistant Cherokee County Attorney Garth Adams was prosecuting the cases at the time. Stephen Angermayer was appointed special prosecutor in both cases on July 26, 2007, because the FBI was investigating Goodrich, though that was not revealed as the reason at the time.

“It breaks my heart,” Adams said at the time about turning over the case.

Candace Gayoso, who became assistant county attorney in December 2007, was appointed special prosecutor in the Birdie Hoaks case on Oct. 11, 2007. Cherokee County Attorney John Bullard took office on Dec. 1, 2007, after Goodrich’s resignation. Bullard did not keep Adams on his staff.

Yet there was no further activity in either case until Jan. 9, when Bullard filed motions to dismiss the charges against both sisters, and Magistrate Judge Bill Lyerla signed an order dismissing the charges.

In his motions, Bullard listed four reasons for dismissing the charges:

Considerable time has passed since the charges were filed, and witnesses have moved away.

The sisters have moved from the area with no known intentions to return.

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