Archive for Thursday, July 15, 2004

Utility bandit’ suspect freed

July 15, 2004

Authorities in three counties are still on the hunt for a burglar who posed as a water department employee to gain access to people's homes.

Last week prosecutors in Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties dropped charges against a 36-year old Missouri man who had been charged in connection with the case.

Daniel Casterton was charged in all three counties with theft and burglary after he turned himself in to Springfield Mo., authorities June 27.

However, John Withee, Casterton's attorney, said it was a case of mistaken identity.

"Someone was using Dan's name," Withee said. "It was kind of an identity theft thing."

Withee said at least one victim identified a man who used the name Dan Casterton. After that information surfaced, he said, newspapers and television stations contacted the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles and obtained a photograph of his client.

Withee said Casterton turned himself in after his friends saw his picture on a local television station.

Leavenworth prosecutors dropped charges against Casterton July 7 after they met with Leavenworth police officers.

"It was a case of mistaken identity," said Deborah Owens, a spokesperson for the Leavenworth County attorney. "The (Leavenworth) police came up and told us we had the wrong person, and he was released."

However, immediately after the Leavenworth charges were dropped, Casterton was transferred to Wyandotte County and charged with three counts of burglary and theft in incidents that took place June 20 and 22. He was then held in Wyandotte County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.

However, Wyandotte County prosecutors dropped the charges July 9 and Casterton was released by a judge's order, according to a statement from Chris Schneider, assistant Wyandotte County district attorney. Schneider's statement said the district attorney dropped charges after Casterton provided evidence supporting an alibi.

At that point, all of the charges he faced had been dropped.

Earlier, Shawnee police had declined to arrest Casterton after victims of two similar incidents were unable to identify him in a photo lineup, Capt. Ron Copeland of the Shawnee Police Department said.

"We don't know who the suspect is," Copeland said.

However, Copeland said his department will continue to investigate the case and work with other area law enforcement officials.

There had not been any other charges filed against anyone as of Tuesday afternoon, but Owens said authorities may be closing in on the so-called utility bandit.

"They are still doing the investigation," she said. "But I think they have a pretty good idea who did it."

All told, Casterton spent 12 days in custody while he was facing charges.

"He was very stressed," Withee said. "But he was confident it would be dismissed."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.