CRIME Suspect in many burglaries arraigned
The suspect was let out of jail in error last weekend.
YOUNGSTOWN -- William R. Crowell got into a stolen car, locked it, grabbed a pipe from his jacket, filled it with suspected crack, fired up the pipe and smoked as police looked on, reports show.
Members of the Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force didn't watch for long.
One officer used his baton to smash Crowell's driver's side window Wednesday afternoon.
Crowell, of Youngstown, had to be pulled out of the stolen Ford Contour, police said. The 39-year-old struggled and interlocked his fingers, which police pried apart so they could handcuff him.
The task force went hunting for Crowell after City Prosecutor Dionne M. Almasy had warrants issued for his arrest.
The task force learned that Crowell, a suspect in several South Side burglaries, was likely trying to leave the state.
Police found him in a parking lot in the 900 block of High Street and, with weapons drawn, ordered him out of the Ford, stolen earlier Wednesday in Warren. That's when he locked the doors and grabbed the pipe, reports show.
During an inventory of the car, police found two bags of suspected crack in the center console under the radio. In a purple and white pillow case, they found a sizable amount of change and women's jewelry -- watches, rings and earrings.
Crowell was "inadvertently" released last Sunday from the Mahoning County jail by a deputy who put some other inmate's release information on Crowell's docket card, Sheriff Randall A. Wellington has said. The sheriff expects similar occurrences as his department struggles with a slashed budget and looming layoffs.
At arraignment Thursday in municipal court, Crowell's bond was set at $138,000 and a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 4. He faces charges of burglary, receiving stolen property (the car), possession of crack, failure to comply with a police order, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia (crack pipe).
Almasy has said Crowell has a "horrific" history of burglary and was paroled from prison in December 2004. Records show he was sent to prison in January 1997 to serve a 12- to 35-year term on three aggravated burglary convictions and one theft conviction, all in Mahoning County.
The prosecutor also recalled that Crowell escaped from a Tennessee prison roughly 15 years ago.
Almasy said Crowell is a suspect in "a slew" of South Side burglaries, especially in the Brownlee Woods area, and matches the description of a burglary suspect in other parts of town. She said that, when arrested last week, he was driving a vehicle registered to a another well-known burglar.
Patrolman Frank Bigowsky arrested Crowell last Friday evening after a foot chase on Youngstown-Poland Road. Crowell identified himself as James Ray Wright and said he was homeless.
Items found on Wright, including a sewing case, rolls of coins, FOP ring and a graduation ring from The Rayen School, were positively identified by a couple in their 80s who live in the 1900 block of Medford Avenue. The couple had returned home around 10 p.m. last Friday to find their place ransacked.
Bigowsky, in his report, said the man he arrested gave a couple of different Social Security numbers and his true identity needed to be verified.