The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 9, 2012

Three suspects sought in slaying on Pearl Avenue

Police probe two burglaries of home in same night

Authorities believe 17-year-old Daniel D. Hartman shot and killed Jacob Wages when Wages caught Hartman and two unidentified juveniles sometime early Friday morning inside his home at 1912 S. Pearl Ave.

Hartman, of Tulsa, Okla., who has been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and burglary in the killing of Wages, 23, remained at large Monday. But he is not the only suspect police were seeking.

A probable-cause affidavit that became available Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court states that Hartman and two juvenile suspects “unlawfully entered” Wages’ home “with the intent to steal.”

“Upon entry, Hartman was confronted by the resident, and Hartman shot Jacob Wages with a handgun that he brought with him, killing the victim,” the affidavit reads.

The court document states that the three suspects then searched the home looking for items to steal and left with an assault rifle belonging to the victim.

Police Lt. Darren Gallup confirmed that police are looking for Hartman and two juveniles for their roles in the slaying. But he declined to provide the names, ages or genders of the two juveniles, or say where they live.

The Hartman affidavit was initially confusing because a statement released by police Monday, prior to the affidavit being filed, reported the arrest of two adult suspects in an apparent second burglary at the same address.

Cody E. Stephens, 20, of Parsons, Kan., and Johnathan J. Taylor, 19, of Joplin, were arrested Sunday and charged with first-degree burglary.

Probable-cause affidavits filed with their charges state that they also entered Wages’ home on Friday and stole a black lockbox. They entered through the back door, with two unnamed people legally inside the home at the time, according to the affidavits. The lockbox, which was taken from the living room, “belonged to the deceased victim,” the affidavits read.

The documents do not state what the lockbox contained or when the alleged burglary took place with respect to the other illegal entry of the home and the shooting of Wages. But Gallup told the Globe that Stephens and Taylor are accused of entering the residence after the alleged burglary that led to the shooting of Wages.

Gallup declined to discuss what was in the lockbox or if it has been recovered by investigators. He also declined to discuss who else was present in Wages’ home, if they witnessed the shooting, whether the two burglaries were linked in some manner or if a murder weapon has been recovered.

“Right now, where we’re at in this investigation, it’s just not prudent to release that stuff,” Gallup said.

He did indicate that the stolen assault rifle has not been recovered and may still be in the possession of the suspects.

The Tri-State Major Case Squad was activated Saturday afternoon once the preliminary findings of an autopsy were known. Police were declining to discuss details of the autopsy, such as the number of times the victim was shot and the location of the wound or wounds.

Investigators are working with Tulsa police in the effort to locate Hartman and the two juveniles. They are asking anyone with information concerning their whereabouts to contact their local law enforcement agency or call Heartland Crime Stoppers at (417) 782-TIPZ.

The arrest warrant issued for Hartman carries both a $400,000 surety bond and a $50,000 cash bond. Stephens and Taylor were being held Monday at the Joplin City Jail on surety bonds set at $50,000 each and cash bonds of $5,000 each.

Time of murder

POLICE WERE CALLED to the home of Jacob Wages at 8:42 a.m. Friday after someone reported finding him dead. A police incident report log provides a time frame for the crime of 3 to 8:30 a.m.

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