BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - A 12-year-old girl was the key to solving a number of recent burglaries in Washington County all linked to one man after she called authorities after allegedly witnessing him break into her house, according to officials.
That man, Claremore resident Billy Ray Smith, 63, is now behind bars at the Washington County jail where he is being held on charges of first- and second-degree burglary.
According to Washington County Undersheriff Steve Johnson, at around 11 a.m. Thursday the sheriff's office received a call of a burglary in progress in rural Washington County near Ochelata. By the time deputies were able to reach the residence where from the call was made, the suspect had left the scene.
Reportedly, the man broke into the residence where the 11-year-old was home alone. When she heard somebody try to get into the house, she played she was asleep until he left.
"She could hear the bad guy in the house, she could hear him walking around and she could hear when he left," said Johnson. He said when he left, she jumped up and looked out the window and got a good description of him and the vehicle he was driving.
This description the deputies took and matched up with a suspect and vehicle description in a burglary reported to Bartlesville occurring on Sunday. The victim in this case got a tag number off the truck which he supplied to police.
Johnson said when the tag number checked back to a man in Claremore, a county investigator went to there to gain more more details and learned the owner of the truck, Smith, had gone to Wagoner where he had turned himself into the jail to serve weekend time for another charge.
Learning this, authorities in Washington County drew up and submitted papers to have a hold placed on the man until deputies from Washington County could pick him up.
When Washington County picked him up on Monday, on the way back as an investigator interviewed him, Smith reportedly confessed to four burglaries, two of them around the county, one in the Ramona city limits and one in the Bartlesville city limits, said Johnson.
Smith appeared in Washington County District Court Tuesday for a video arraignment during which the judge set his bond to $100,000 with a condition of no contact with the alleged victims in the cases.
The judge ordered him back to court for a July 13 appearance.