Stonington — No DNA, forensic computer examinations or electron microscopic studies.
Instead, police say they have quickly solved a string of burglaries here using old-school techniques — matching tracks from a spare tire and Nike basketball sneakers to the suspect.
Details of how police determined who may have committed up to a dozen burglaries of unoccupied Pawcatuck homes here over the past few weeks were revealed in a warrant Monday when one of the two suspects, Lenny Fayerweather, 24, of 98 W. Broad St., Pawcatuck, was arraigned in New London Superior Court.
Fayerweather has been charged with three counts of third-degree burglary, two counts of third-degree larceny and one count of second-degree criminal mischief in connection with three burglaries on Courtland Street and Lathrop Street that were reported Jan. 24 and on Timber Ridge Drive Jan. 26.
In the case of the Timber Ridge break-in, the homeowner said he was awakened by someone opening his bedroom door and shining a light inside. The burglar fled when the man began yelling at him. Police tracked down Fayerweather just 40 minutes after the Timber Ridge burglary and seized some of the items they say were taken in the burglaries. It is unclear why Fayerweather was not charged with a more serious crime in connection with the Timber Ridge Drive incident. Police are continuing to investigate the case, and another arrest is expected.
Several family members attended Fayerweather's arraignment, at which Judge Barbara B. Jongbloed set his bond at $75,000 and continued the case to Feb. 19. The case may eventually be transferred to the court where major crimes are heard, the judge said.
Public defender Jennifer Nowak said Fayerweather may be the "less culpable" of the two people involved in the case. Bail Commissioner Chris Manavas said Fayerweather had no criminal record prior to the motor vehicle charge related to this case. Manavas said Fayerweather reports no drug or psychiatric problems but says he has memory loss issues.
According to the warrant, on Jan. 24 at 1:42 a.m. a Pawcatuck man called police to say that he was watching his parents' home on Courtland Street while they were on vacation and noticed a light on inside. When he investigated, he noticed the front door was open. Police found a door with a broken window and footwear impressions in the snow outside. Missing were two flat-screen televisions, a camera, a half-dozen sets of sterling silverware, an engraved ring, silver dollar coins and a Russian string instrument.
An hour later, while canvassing the area, police noticed that a vacant home on nearby Palmer Street had footwear impressions in the snow leading to an open door that were consistent with those found on Courtland Street. Nothing appeared to have been taken.
Then at 4:29 a.m., the owner of a home on Lathrop Avenue called police to report that when he returned home from work 30 minutes earlier, he noticed footprints in the snow leading to his house and a door unlocked. Police said the footprints were consistent with those at the first two locations.
Among the many items taken from the Lathrop Avenue home were a flat-screen television, an X-Box 360, various rings, necklaces and earrings, some with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and pearls, that belonged to the man's girlfriend.
Two days later at 12:30 a.m. the owner of the Timber Ridge Drive home called police to say he had been awakened by a burglar who then ran down the second-floor stairs and out a rear sliding glass door.
Police noticed the tire tracks in fresh snow were consistent with a narrow spare tire commonly known as a "doughnut." Police also found two sets of footprints leading to an unlocked window. One had a double circular pattern and the other had an impression of Michael Jordan dunking a basketball. Stolen were an iPad, cellphone, $220, an iPod and a card reader.
Forty minutes later, police noticed that a gold Volvo sedan with a "doughnut" in the front left tire location was parked in front of the Elm Tree Inn, which is located at 98 W. Broad St.
Police located Fayerweather in his apartment and told him the tire pattern was consistent with impression left at the scene of the Timber Ridge burglary.
Fayerweather let police search his car and apartment and denied any involvement in the burglary. Blue rubber gloves were found in the car, and inside the apartment police found pairs of Nike Airmaxx and Nike Air Force size 13 basketball sneakers that were consistent with impressions found at the four burglary locations and around the Volvo.
Police said Fayerweather continued to deny he had anything to do with the burglaries. None of the footwear in his apartment were consistent with the second set of footprints with the Jordan design found at Timber Ridge Drive. With Fayerweather's permission, police seized the televisions and sneakers.
On Jan. 30, police contacted the owner of a North Stonington pawn shop who said that on the afternoon of Jan. 24 Fayerweather sold him jewelry and silverware. Photographs taken from a surveillance video showed Fayerweather and another man involved in the transaction. The shop owner provided police with receipts and photographs of the items, which the burglary victims identified as being taken from their homes.