A former Bureau of Land Management fire boss was one of at least seven burglars accused of taking over and vandalizing an east Medford mansion, turning it into a "tweaker flophouse" for two weeks while the owners were out of town.
Allen Dale Mitchell Sr., 53, was one of two people arrested Sunday when police found them trying to force open a large safe inside the ransacked home in the 5100 block of Aerial Heights Drive off Cherry Lane, according to the Medford Police Department.
Mitchell was the BLM's Medford District fire staff officer before he retired in early 2016, and the agency here has had no contact with him since his retirement, BLM spokesman Jim Whittington said.
Since Sunday, six others have been arrested in connection with the case, including two people discovered driving away from the house Tuesday morning by the homeowner when he returned from an extended trip, police said.
"It's clearly been a tweaker flophouse," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
Mitchell, who gave police an address in Sheridan, was taken into custody on charges of first-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief and lodged Sunday in the Jackson County Jail. He was released Monday because of overcrowding, jail records show.
Mitchell is due to make his initial appearance May 3 in Jackson County Circuit Court.
A maintenance worker visiting the large house overlooking Medford Sunday discovered it had been ransacked and called police, who found Mitchell and Tyson Lee Ceideburg, 26, trying to open the 1,000-pound safe to no avail, police said.
Ceideburg was arrested on charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief, possession of methamphetamine and possession of burglary tools, jail records show. He was jailed and released Monday with a May 3 court appearance scheduled, records show.
Medford police Lt. Justin Ivens said the initial burglars had taken over the residence two weeks ago and started living there, with several people cycling in and out and stealing vehicles and vast amounts of property.
"It doesn't take long if you're out of town," Ivens said. "The word starts to spread, and this type of situation happens. That's how it got so extensive."
After the initial arrests, police returned early Monday morning to check on the house and found Kathi Coyle, 46, at the residence and arrested her on out-of-county warrants for burglary and theft charges as well as warrants for failing to appear on theft and drug charges.
Coyle was jailed Monday and released on her own recognizance at noon, jail records show.
The homeowner returned to the house Tuesday morning and spooked two people in a blue minivan who were leaving the house, Ivens said. With the homeowner's help, police discovered the van was tied to a residence on the 100 block of Mace Street and arrested two people in the van at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Ivens said.
Officers cited Amber Dawne Russell, 28, and Evan Graham Murphy Edgerton, 35, on charges of first-degree burglary and first-degree theft after items stolen from the looted house were found in the vehicle, Ivens said. Russell was jailed on unrelated warrants and Edgerton was jailed for violating an order banning contact with Russell, Ivens said.
Edgerton remained jailed Wednesday on $7,000 bail, while Russell was released, jail records show.
Two of four vehicles stolen from the residence were recovered early Wednesday in an alley behind a house in the 400 block of Beatty Street, and two women who lived at the residence where the vehicles were found were arrested, Budreau said.
Cited and released on one count of first-degree burglary and two counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle was Jill Elizabeth Schermett, 36, police said. Chelsie Lynn Cooper, 30, was cited and released on two counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle, but not burglary because investigators did not have evidence she was in the ransacked house, Ivens said.
A search warrant served at 11:50 a.m. Wednesday at a residence on the 2200 block of Ruhl Way netted about $1,000 worth of furniture and antiques stolen from the residence and led to the arrest of Susan Kay Nettleton, 49, police said. She was jailed on charges of first-degree burglary and first-degree theft and was being held Wednesday on $27,500 bail.
Still outstanding is one stolen vehicle, identified as a black 1972 International Truck with Oregon license JJQ-702.
Ivens said people leaving their residences for extended periods of time should invest in home security and surveillance cameras, tell neighbors they will be away and even ask police to drive by at times.