History of a serial burglar?
by Staff Writer
by Frank DeLoache and Mike Parks
It’s approaching two years since Fred Leake III heard a noise downstairs one night and found a stranger standing in the first-floor living room of his Key West, Fla., home.
Leake clearly remembers two odd aspects about the man in front of him. First, he was dressed up for Key West, wearing nice slacks, loafers and a polo shirt. Second, “he was really calm, like, ‘I break in houses all the time.’ ”
Leake couldn’t have known then how close he apparently was to the truth.
According to a Key West Police Department report, officers later identified the man who pried open Leake’s front window as former Cornelius resident Justin Ryan Aldrich.
Court records in Key West indicate Aldrich, now 33, never appeared in court to answer the first-degree burglary charge. The Monroe County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office still has an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
But since then, Aldrich and his girlfriend, Anna Lee Hoard, also formerly of Cornelius, have earned the moniker “Bonnie & Clyde” and become suspects in crimes in two other states. Indiana prison records also show Aldrich was convicted of burglary in Bloomington, Ind., and served a 7 1/2-month prison sentence.
The couple made local headlines when they were suspects in at least three south Charlotte burglaries and face burglary charges in Concord and Columbia, S.C. Law enforcement officials in Myrtle Beach, also have a warrant charging Aldrich with receiving stolen property.
Now, after facing numerous charges in at least four states since 1998, Aldrich may finally stay put for a while. He remains locked in the Richland County Jail with a $125,000 bond on the Columbia-area burglary charges and a hold by Myrtle Beach officials. Hoard, who faces charges in Concord and Columbia, remains in jail on $105,000 bond.
Key West authorities apparently haven’t asked for Aldrich, and Leake learned about their reputation as “Bonnie & Clyde” by accident only recently.
‘Really glad you have him’
A friend of Leake’s works part-time at the Schooner Wharf bar, where Anna Hoard worked as a server around 2009. Wondering where she might have gone, Leake’s friend did an Internet search for her and found a number of Herald Weekly articles about Hoard and Aldrich.
Leake emailed the newspaper to say he found Aldrich standing in his living room about 10:30 p.m. Nov. 28, 2009. Leake cut on a hall light and got a good look at the stranger, who was eerily calm and asked, “Is Jeff here?”
Leake tried to grab the man to hold him for police, but the burglar broke free and jumped back out the front window. Leake tried to chase him, but the man got away on a bicycle.
Leake later picked Aldrich’s picture out of a lineup. A judge issued a warrant for Aldrich’s arrest, but he didn’t return to his apartment.
According to Key West police reports, an officer picked up Aldrich by chance five months later and found the outstanding warrant. Aldrich told the officer he and his girlfriend, Anna Hoard, had just moved back to Key West two weeks earlier.
But after posting bond, Aldrich took off again, forcing Key West officials to issue another warrant.
Following Aldrich history through criminal charges is difficult, but court records in Key West; Columbia and Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Charlotte and Concord show:
• In July 1998, Aldrich was living on Abby Lane in Myrtle Beach, S.C., when he was charged with first-degree burglary, aggravated assault and battery and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
• Six months later, on Jan. 29, 1999, with the first charges still pending, he was charged with six counts of forgery for more than $5,000 value.
In May 1999, apparently as part of a plea agreement that reduced the burglary and assault charges to misdemeanors, he pleaded guilty to those charges and the five forgery charges. He received 40 days in jail and a suspended prison term of five years, with three years probation.
• Another six months later, on Jan. 11, 2000, Aldrich, still living in Myrtle Beach, was charged with two counts of manufacturing and possessing crack cocaine and two counts of possession with intent to deliver marijuana.
Eighteen months later, in July 2001, Aldrich pleaded guilty to the cocaine charges, in exchange for 90 days in jail and another five-year suspended sentence and probation. Prosecutors dropped the marijuana charges, S.C. court records show.
• Aldrich’s girlfriend, Anna Hoard, was born in Bloomington, Ind., and on Dec. 19, 2006, Aldrich was convicted of “residential entry” in Monroe County, where Bloomington is located. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 months and released around August 2007.
• On April 21, 2009, a Key West police officer happened upon a fight between two men outside the 801 Pub on Duval Street. The officer broke up the fight and determined one of the men was Aldrich, who was accompanied by Anna Hoard.
When Key West officials searched a law enforcement database, they found that Indiana officials had issued a warrant for Aldrich eight days earlier, when he failed to appear in court on a felony theft charge.
Officer Thomas J. Stutz placed Aldrich in the Monroe County jail on the Indiana warrant, but the Herald Weekly could not find records on what happened to the theft charge.
Between Charlotte and Key West
• Three months later, on July 20, 2009, Aldrich was in the Mecklenburg County Jail, charged with failure to appear on 2008 charges of felony possession of stolen goods, uttering a forged instrument, financial identity fraud and fraud by false pretense. But he was released the same day, apparently on a new bond.
• In November 2009, four months later, Leake confronted and wrestled with Aldrich in his downstairs living room. A judge issued a warrant for Aldrich, but police didn’t find him.
• In February, 2010, a judge eventually sentenced Aldrich to serve 60 days in the county jail on the forgery charge, with credit for 42 days he’d spent in jail already.
• In April 9, 2010, a Key West police officer, while questioning Aldrich about his cat, determined that Aldrich was wanted on the burglary charge and arrested him. Aldrich bonded out and didn’t appear for his next hearing. A judge issued a warrant on May 4, setting Aldrich’s bond at $75,000.
In August, officers arrested Aldrich again, when he came to the Key West police station to file a theft complaint against someone else. Once again, Aldrich posted bond and did not return for the hearing.
Charlotte and Concord
• In February 2011, after serving a search warrant on a Matthews apartment where Aldrich and Hoard were staying, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police found stolen jewelry connected to at least three burglaries of south Charlotte homes in January and February. The suspect couple fled the apartment before Charlotte detectives arrived.
The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office later dropped any warrants connecting Aldrich and Hoard to those burglaries because of legal questions surround the search and because Charlotte detectives had earlier accused a different person of committing the burglaries.
• On March 4, Concord police arrested Aldrich, Hoard and a third person in the middle of breaking into a home. Police got the break because a 19-year-old woman was home in an upstairs bedroom at the time Aldrich broke in and called 911.
Aldrich and Hoard were charged with multiple felonies, including breaking and entering and possession of stolen goods. But they were released after posting bond.
• A month later, on April 11, police in Forest Acres, S.C., a small town adjacent to Columbia, arrested Aldrich and Hoard after a brief chase. A Forest Acres homeowner came home from lunch and found Hoard sitting in a red Jeep parked at his home. Aldrich emerged from the side of the house and jumped in the Jeep, which sped away. The homeowner found a side door pried open and called police.
• Since then, the Columbia Police Department has charged Aldrich and Hoard with an additional burglary and felony larceny.