Delores L. Walker, Free Press Reporter
When the church van bearing the name Victory Bible Church, Wetumpka, Alabama, was driven down the interstate by two young men there didn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary that would cause anyone to be suspicious... but events that followed would prove that assumption to be about as far from the truth as could be.
Later reports would show the two young men, Jonathan David Brown, 19, Prattville, Al. and Charles Edward Duskin, 20, Mooresville, Indiana were on the run, hiding from the military police after going AWOL the first week of Feburary.
Reports say Brown and Duskin, stationed in Ft. Lee, Va. had completed their Army basic training and were in technical school when they went AWOL. They caught a bus from Virginia to Montgomery, Al. with plans to visit family that lived nearby.
On Feb. 5 they entered Victory Baptist Church in Wetumpka, Al. where reports state they allegedly took money and found the keys to the church van making it an easy steal for the two on the run.
According to Sgt. John Young, Lafayette County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) their connection to Lafayette County began when he was called to investigate what appeared to be a burglary at Airline Baptist Church in Lafayette County on Monday, Feb. 23. Young said the church safe had been forced open and several electronic items were missing. Also gone were a keyboard and a supply of candy that was kept in Sunday school classes.
Treating it as a burglary the LCSO made contact with all the pastors in the county asking them to check for a break-in at their churches. It wasn't long before Cornerstone Baptist Church called the sheriff's office to say that their building had fallen victim to burglary as well.
Young's report shows that the alleged thieves had taken several electronic items from Cornerstone Baptist Church.
Young said it was Thursday morning when the discovery was made that Riverside Baptist Church had also been burglarized.
Young said he put the missing items on the Teletype and it paid off with a hit. A later interview with Brown and Duskin would reveal they had attempted to pawn the keyboard stolen from Airline Baptist Church at a Tallahassee pawnshop. The owner checked the serial number identifying it as a stolen item and called a Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) detective who arrested the two immediately for attempting to pawn stolen goods.
When TPD contacted LCSO with confirmation that they had arrested Brown and Ruskin with Lafayette County goods in hand, Young traveled to Tallahassee to interview the two men.
According to Young's report, Brown and Ruskin are charged with several counts in four states as a result of their alleged crime spree that included Mayo.
As of now they will face charges in Virginia, Alabama and Indiana. Charges are grand theft, dealing in stolen property; petty theft and attempt to defraud pawnbroker and multiple charges of conspiracy to commit burglary.
They are held in the Leon County Jail on a bond of $5000 on each count but the military has placed a hold (no bond) on them as well as charges of desertion.
Charges in Florida are pending at this time.
Young said all the property taken from the three churches in Lafayette County has been recovered with the exception of a TV and foods eaten by the two suspects.