Officer gets wind of burglary suspect 2 break-ins linked by lingering odor

February 24, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

The two Westminster church break-ins in December were similar, and police Officer Misty C. Runkles caught wind of the connection when she entered the pastor's office at the second church.

A "heavy smell of human body odor" in one of the rooms at Westminster Church of the Brethren, Park and Bond streets, linked Joseph Donahue Woodyard to a later break-in at Ascension Episcopal Church, 23 N. Court St., she said in charging documents filed in Carroll District Court.

Woodyard, who has a Damascus address, was charged in a warrant yesterday with theft of less than $300 and breaking into the Episcopal church Dec. 28 where he allegedly called "live talk" services and ran up phone bill of nearly $200.

Officer Runkles said in court documents that the Rev. Shawn Hill was leaving the church after a meeting shortly before 9 p.m. when he noticed that lights he had turned out were on again. Mr. Hill said he went to the office and saw a man, later identified as Woodyard, using the phone. Woodyard made $191.42 worth of calls, court documents said.

Woodyard left the church after the minister told him to go, but he allegedly left a little something behind for the officer: his body odor.

It was the same odor he left on a sweat shirt in a room at the Church of the Brethren on Dec. 17.

The suspect also left a beer can in one of the church rooms, and had taken a dollar from the pastor's drawer, court records said.

During police questioning, Woodyard said he broke into the church because he was cold and drunk. He also said he needed to use the phone.

Officer Runkles "detected a very strong scent of human body odor in the room and on the sweat shirt," court records said.

"The odor was familiar to the officer, due to [her] having been involved in a similar incident at another local church," the officer said in the new charging documents.

Woodyard was convicted earlier this month on the break-in charges from the Dec. 17 incident, and is serving 30 days in the Carroll County Detention Center.

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