Cottonwood AZ (September 18, 2019) – This is a case where a detective’s knowledge of the area and some of its criminal players pays off.
On September 8, 2019, deputies were dispatched to the 1100 block of E Willow Point, Cornville, regarding a burglary report. The victim indicated the suspects had entered two homes and several outbuildings on their property taking numerous items of value. Deputies learned that the victim’s neighbor was also burglarized and very likely by the same suspects. There was a substantial amount of property taken in the burglaries including a 2008 Polaris Ranger, homemade trailer, several expensive bicycles, televisions, a lawn mower and large quantity of tools. Total losses exceeded $20,000.
A detective specializing in property crimes was assigned to the case and after reviewing a complete list of stolen property, recalled a prior investigation involving 55-year-old James Hawthorne from Cottonwood. Some of the property stolen in the current burglaries is not typical of items stolen, i.e. fishing poles, tackle boxes and specialized tools. Just such items were recovered during a previous service search warrant at Hawthorne’s house. Additionally, an anonymous source had contacted the detective recently and shared that Hawthorne was scouting properties in the Oak Creek area to burglarize.
Based on this knowledge, on September 10, 2019, the detective drove by Hawthorne’s house in the 2700 block of Yuma Circle, Cottonwood, and was able to detect a side-by-side vehicle looking similar to the stolen Polaris Ranger. Hawthorne was not known to own such a vehicle. The owner of the Ranger was contacted and supplied details on some of the customization he had done to the Ranger. Detectives returned to Yuma Circle and with the aid of binoculars, were able to confirm the vehicle on Hawthorne’s property belonged to the victim.
Detectives attempted to contact Hawthorne at his home, but there was no answer even though detectives could hear someone in the house. The detectives maintained a view of the front of the house while a search warrant was completed. During this time, a vehicle pulled into Hawthorne’s driveway and 2 occupants were detained, including 28-year-old Vincent Heslin from Rimrock. The case detective knew Heslin who served prison time for a prior burglary conviction.
By the time the warrant was served, no one was found in Hawthorne’s home, but the house was filled with tools, bicycles, antiques, and other misc. items. The tools completely covered the living room floor and there were power and hand tools piled behind the couch. The detective noted you could hardly walk through the room without tripping on mounds of tools. There were two more expensive ‘Specialized’ bikes in the kitchen which looked like they were just placed there. In Hawthorne’s bedroom were 3 fully loaded firearms. Throughout the home, detectives confirmed finding numerous items that were stolen from the burglaries in Cornville over the weekend.
During a search of the car that Heslin was riding in, detectives found drug paraphernalia along with stolen tools and personal papers belonging to one of the burglary victims. The other occupant in Heslin’s vehicle, who had been detained, provided part of a puzzle implicating Heslin and Hawthorne in the burglaries. As the investigation continued, detectives discovered 20-year-old Jessica Warwick from Cottonwood also participated in the burglaries.
Heslin was arrested and booked into the Camp Verde Detention Center on charges including Possession of Burglary Tools, Residential Burglary x2, Vandalism, Theft, and Vehicle Theft. He is being held without bond on a probation violation.
On September 12, 2019, Hawthorne was located during a traffic stop and arrested. He was cooperative and provided details as to his involvement and those who assisted him in both burglaries. Hawthorne was booked into the Camp Verde Detention Center on charges including Burglary x2, Theft, Weapons Offense, Vandalism, Vehicle Theft and Possession of a Controlled Substance. Hawthorne was in possession of meth at the time of his arrest. He is also being held without bond due to a probation violation.
On September 12, 2019, Warwick was found in the Cornville area and arrested on a Cottonwood warrant. She was also charged for her involvement in the burglaries and booked into the Camp Verde Detention Center where she remains on a $10,750 bond.
The investigation continues into the property recovered and other crimes that may be linked to the suspects.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov