Police still seek suspect in home burglary case
Charges dropped against suspect who falsely admitted involvement in the case
The St. Helens Police Department is again seeking information about the suspect in a burglary last month after dropping charges this week against a St. Helens man who had falsely confessed to the crime.
Ross Michael Clark, 20, of St. Helens, who was arrested June 1 and charged in an unrelated burglary investigation, was being held at the Columbia County Jail and admitted involvement in the burglary after being questioned Friday, June 3, according to a press release from the department.
On Wednesday, June 8, police dropped charges against Clark, stating that further investigation proved that his involvement was impossible and his admissions were false.
Police Chief Terry Moss said that while Clark was being interviewed, he confessed and gave a lot of detail, and gave details that only someone involved would have known about.
Following up on Clarks admission, however, police talked to witnesses who said Clark could not have been in the area at time of the crime. When officers went back to question Clark, he admitted to lying about his involvement, Moss said.
In all of my years in police work, weve never had a confession and then a recant like this, Moss said, adding that he is unsure why Clark admitted to a crime he did not commit.
Clark is being held in the Columbia County Jail on $9,125 bail for charges in an unrelated case.
Moss said the police department received a number of leads in the days after the incident and will continue to follow up on those during the course of the investigation.
On Thursday afternoon, June 2, the police department released a sketch of the suspect based on the victims description. Moss said the sketch is still being used as an information gathering tool in the case.
The incident under investigation occurred Thursday, May 26, when the owner of a house on 16th Street returned from work shortly before 3 p.m. to find the suspect burglarizing his residence. When the homeowner tried to stop the man, a fight broke out. The homeowner was seriously injured and required a trip to the hospital, Moss said.
The suspect fled after the fight and was last seen on foot leaving the house on 16th Street and heading toward Columbia Boulevard.
Police records indicate less than $500 worth of belong-
ings were taken during the burglary, including cash,
jewelry and miscellaneous items.
Second violent home break-in also reported
A second break-in was reported in St. Helens Monday night, June 6, after a renter in a home on South 4th Street was choked to unconsciousness after discovering two people inside her residence at around 11:30 p.m., according to a social media post by the landlord of the house.
Anna Steinhart, the homeowner, made a post on a Columbia County Facebook group on Tuesday to warn residents in the area after the renter notified her of the home invasion. Steinharts post also indicated that a police report was filed regarding the break in.
Moss encouraged the public to continue taking precautions to protect their homes and valuables, but said the police department is not seeing any trends in violent home break ins and is "not seeing anything that anyone should be extra alarmed about."