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Police Impersonation Reportedly Performed During Home Invasion

February 5, 2013
By J.W. JOHNSON JR. Marshall County Bureau Chief , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MOUNDSVILLE - Jonathan Michael Underwood and Henry Huntsman allegedly identified themselves as city police officers and invaded an Ohio Street home on Jan. 26, holding a family hostage for about an hour with BB guns and robbing them.

The home invasion, captured on tape during a 911 call, culminated a day-long crime spree in which the two allegedly broke into several vehicles before storming the Ohio Street residence, a criminal complaint filed in Marshall County Magistrate Court states.

At the home, they allegedly impersonated two Moundsville police officers by name, telling the occupants they were there to take anything they believed had been purchased with drug money.

Article Photos

HUNTSMAN

The allegations against Jonathan Michael Underwood and Henry Huntsman are detailed in five-page criminal complaints against the two. Underwood, 26, of 702 Baker Ave. and Huntsman, 23, of 206 Tomlinson Ave. face charges of armed robbery and impersonation of a law enforcement officer. Underwood also faces a charge of receiving or transferring stolen goods.

According to the complaint, the stolen property charge stemmed from a Jan. 25 incident in which Underwood allegedly stole several items from a vehicle in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Surveillance video showed Huntsman was the driver, but the passenger could not be identified from the video.

A second vehicle was broken into less than an hour later at a cafe on Lafayette Avenue. Surveillance video showed Underwood enter the business and sit at the bar for several minutes before leaving and entering the vehicle. He then gets back into the same vehicle identified as the escape vehicle in the Wal-Mart surveillance video.

On Jan. 26, Marshall County 911 received a call from an unknown male who said, "There are two men here with guns," before the call was disconnected. After calling the number back, dispatchers heard two men ordering individuals to put their hands behind their backs and claiming they were law enforcement officers, the complaint states.

The men identifying themselves as officers can be heard on the tape saying they were going to take anything in the house they believed to have been purchased with drug money. After being disconnected a second time, dispatchers called back and reached a juvenile, who said two men entered through the back door, produced weapons and held the people inside at gunpoint while they committed the robbery. The men loaded the stolen items, including electronics and syringes, into a red duffel bag.

An officer responding to the call saw two men in a vehicle similar to the one used in the robberies a day earlier sitting at an intersection with a blue, plastic tote in the back seat. The officer continued to respond to the call, and a be-on-the-lookout notice was issued for the vehicle.

On Jan. 27, officers with the Martins Ferry Police Department said they believed they had spotted the vehicle. It was being driven by Huntsman and contained one passenger. Authorities later interviewed the passenger, who said Huntsman the night before had attempted to sell him video games, laptops and other electronics. The passenger said Huntsman also had a gun he allegedly had obtained in a breaking and entering.

A search warrant was issued for Huntsman's residence, where officers found several video games and cash hidden in a door frame, as well as a blue tote. Meanwhile, officers arrested Underwood, who had the red duffel bag with video games inside, as well as a knife and syringes. The victims confirmed the items were those stolen during the robbery.

The juvenile was shown a lineup of potential suspects, although he could not positively identify anyone. However, he said he remembered one of the men had a red goatee and had mismatched gloves, which matched the description of Underwood in the surveillance video from the Jan. 25 robberies. The victim's description of the guns used in the home robbery matched those of guns found at Huntsman's home, which officers determined to be a BB gun.

Officers obtained a search warrant for Underwood's home, where they found more video games and other items reported as stolen. Two cell phones were also found, which contained photos of the victims. Underwood's mother provided officers a statement, saying she observed Underwood and "a guy named Henry" carrying a dark tote into the home. After she told them she did not want the items in her home, the two left the area.

After reviewing the 911 call, officers confirmed Huntsman's voice can be heard, and the two men allegedly make several comments about being law enforcement officers, including making references to the DEA, marshals and indictments. Huntsman also allegedly referred to Underwood by the name of a current Moundsville police officer before stating he had "a 9 millimeter pointed" at the head of one victim, the complaint states.

Both men were arrested Friday, and both are being held on $200,000 bond. Underwood is set to appear before Marshall County Magistrate Dave Buzzard on Thursday morning, while Huntsman's hearing before Magistrate Mark Kerwood was expected to be scheduled Monday afternoon.

 
 
 

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