A high-speed chase from Central Point to Phoenix in September sparked a multi-agency burglary investigation that has led to two arrests and thousands of dollars worth of property being recovered.
Michael Spencer Matthews, 29, of Medford, and Demaris Nicole Lightle, 24, of Jacksonville, face multiple burglary and theft charges stemming from a string of smash-and-grab thefts over the past few months that hit victims ranging from Ashland businesses to White City shoppers, according to documents filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Medford police Wednesday posted photos of numerous unclaimed valuables recovered in the burglary case involving Matthews and Lightle, according to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.
Items included a Victorinox backpack, gold women’s Geneva watch, Harman/Kardon headphones, boxes of auto-feed Quik Drive screws, and numerous sets of car keys.
Matthews has been lodged in the Jackson County Jail since Sept. 19, after Jackson County sheriff’s deputies arrested him following the pursuit of a 2003 GMC Yukon Denali SUV that began near Central Point and involved speeds greater than 100 mph.
After spike strips were deployed on southbound Interstate 5, Matthews reportedly lost control of the SUV near the Exit 24 freeway off-ramp.
Police say they witnessed Matthews, Lightle and another passenger ditch the SUV and run to the Phoenix McDonald’s parking lot, where he was captured.
The SUV matched a vehicle captured on surveillance video during a Sept. 17 burglary at Bloomsbury Books in downtown Ashland, according to court documents that listed at least 10 burglary and theft cases. A search of the vehicle yielded an iPhone and iPad believed to belong to the owner of Bloomsbury Books.
Matthews and Lightle are also believed to have been involved in several September mail-theft cases on Fair Oaks Court, Overlook Drive, Mountain Meadows Court and Reiten Drive, according to court documents.
The suspects are accused of taking a woman’s purse from a vehicle parked outside the White City Goodwill in mid-September, then heading to Eagle Point, where they used her credit cards to rack up charges at Arco, Carl’s Jr. and $439 at Walmart “within minutes of the report,” according to Jackson County sheriff’s deputies.
Walmart surveillance video reportedly showed a man and woman wearing the same hats in the store Sept. 15 that Matthews and Lightle wore when they were booked into the jail Sept. 19.
Court documents suggest police have linked Matthews and Lightle to theft cases dating back to July.
Matthews and Lightle were allegedly captured on surveillance video burglarizing the Golden Dynasty restaurant in Ashland during the predawn hours of Aug. 15. The pair are accused of cutting a padlock on a gate, removed a metal screen and entered the business through a hole in the wall before making off with stolen property valued at less than $100, including money from a tip jar, 11 restaurant gift certificates and a key to a video lottery machine.
Lightle allegedly left a shoe imprint on a table while sneaking into the business, and surveillance video captured their faces, clothing and tattoos.
Matthews made his initial appearance Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court on a case charging him with felony counts of first-degree theft, second-degree burglary and mail theft, along with misdemeanors that include criminal mischief, unlawfully entering a motor vehicle and third-degree theft. He remained held in Jackson County Jail Thursday on $160,000 bail.
Court records show Matthews has prior felony convictions dating back to 2012 for coercion, and earlier this year for methamphetamine possession and coercion.
Lightle was released on her own recognizance last week after making her first appearance on theft and identity theft charges, with orders to appear at her next court date Oct. 18. She was also indicted Thursday on mail theft and burglary charges, but no court dates have been set in the new case.
Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.