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Burglary victim surprised by identity of one suspect


Published: Sat, February 9, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

The same three suspects are charged in two break-ins involving the same victims.

By ED RUNYAN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD — The Canfield woman who foiled a burglary at her home Jan. 30, and later learned that her former cleaning lady was a suspect, says the situation will change the way she hires people in the future.

Darlene DeChellis, who attended hearings in Canfield Area Court Friday for the three people charged in the burglary, said she never suspected cleaning lady Joann Douglas, 39, of Youngstown of being involved — until after she helped police arrest Douglas’ brother-in-law.

Joann Douglas was bound over to a Mahoning County grand jury Friday on a charge of complicity to burglary in the DeChellis burglary.

“She was as sweet as pie,” DeChellis said of Joann Douglas, adding that she never suspected Douglas of doing anything improper — even after the restaurant she owns with her husband, Lou, was broken into sometime around New Year’s Eve.

Joann Douglas had cleaned at the DeChellis home every other Wednesday for about a year and cleaned at DeChellis’ Italian Cafe in New Middletown every Friday for a couple of months.

After burglars took cash from the restaurant, the DeChellises had the locks changed, but promptly handed Douglas a copy of the new key.

“She just never crossed our minds,” Darlene DeChellis said of Joann Douglas.

Darlene DeChellis arrived at her Bradford Drive home unexpectedly Jan. 30 to the sound of someone stomping around in the upstairs part of her home. The burglar, later identified as John S. Douglas, 34, of Youngstown, realized someone was home and fled out a back door. DeChellis followed him on foot and later in the car of a 17-year-old passer-by. With the help of DeChellis on her cell phone, police arrested John Douglas and getaway driver Richard S. Cummings, 35, of Youngstown, at the corner of Hilltop Drive and Montgomery Drive in the city.

When police told the DeChellises that her burglar was named John S. Douglas, things began to fall into place, Darlene DeChellis said.

The DeChellises and police figured out that John S. Douglas was related to Joann Douglas, and police investigated whether the same three might have also carried out the restaurant burglary.

Canfield police detective Brian McGivern said last week that Cummings and John S. Douglas confessed involvement in the restaurant burglary.

Warrants were recently issued for the arrest of Cummings and the two Douglases for the restaurant burglary, according to a clerk at Struthers Municipal Court.

Joann Douglas worked for a cleaning company when she first provided cleaning services for the DeChellises’ daughter, Darlene DeChellis said. Later, Douglas began to work for their daughter independently of the cleaning company.

Darlene DeChellis said she will be taking care of her own housework for a while. And when she is ready to hire another person, she’s going to do some background checks, she said. Cummings, and the Douglases were bound over to a Mahoning County grand jury Friday by Judge Joseph M. Houser.

Cummings and John S. Douglas attended the hearings under the custody of Mahoning County sheriff’s deputies. Joann Douglas attended the hearing on her own but was arrested at the end on a warrant from Struthers Municipal Court on a misdemeanor charge of complicity to breaking and entering in relation to the restaurant break-in. Cummings is likewise charged with misdemeanor complicity to breaking and entering in the restaurant break-in, and John S. Douglas is charged with felony breaking and entering in that case.

Hearings on the restaurant burglary are set next week in Struthers Municipal Court for all three.

runyan@vindy.com


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