The theft of three kilograms of heroin from a Will County sheriff’s evidence container wasn’t an inside job, a special prosecutor said Thursday as he charged a Midlothian man with taking part in the burglary.
But he said police are still looking for at least one other person who took part in the break-in.
Terry D. Jenkins, 43, is charged with burglary and is being held on $150,000 bail. He appeared in front of Will County Judge Marzell Richardson Thursday.
The charges against him don’t mention the missing heroin, only that he broke into the Will County sheriff’s secured evidence storage container Oct. 12 at 2402 E. Laraway Road in Joliet. Chuck Colburn of the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s office, who is serving as a special prosecutor in the case, confirmed it was during that break-in that the heroin went missing.
Jenkins was arrested at his home in Midlothian Wednesday morning. Colburn would not say what led authorities to him.
Colburn’s office and the Illinois State Police had been called in to investigate the crime because it involved the sheriff’s department’s evidence. A state police official attended Jenkins’ bond hearing but wouldn’t answer a reporter’s questions. Calls seeking comment from the state police haven’t been returned.
The department realized the heroin – with an estimated value of $270,000 – was stolen after officers discovered a break-in at the Laraway Road complex Oct. 14.
The metal shipping container holding the heroin in the fenced-in impound lot had been monitored by cameras and sealed with a high-tech lock. Records showed the drugs were moved there by Jana Schaeffer, officials said. She’s a civilian employee and daughter of Sheriff Paul Kaupas.
Her husband, Lt. Brett Schaeffer, leads the Will County gang unit that confiscated the drugs from 41-year-old Jose Zamago-Mena of California during a traffic stop on Interstate 55.
Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas, another relative of the sheriff, initially declined to rule out internal suspects in the burglary because of the security at the complex. He later said he’d “hope and pray that this is not an inside job.”
Colburn on Thursday ruled out that possibility.
“I can say that we found no evidence to support that there was any inside involvement from any Will County employee,” he said.
The sheriff’s department didn’t involve itself in the investigation, and Kaupas said he learned about Jenkins’ arrest Thursday afternoon from Sun-Times Media. He called it “very good news.”
“We look forward to hearing all the intimate details,” Kaupas said.
Zamago-Mena is still in custody awaiting trial. He appeared in a Joliet courtroom Wednesday and told Judge Edward Burmila his family had hired a private attorney. None showed, and the judge set another hearing for March 21.
A spokesman for Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow has said his office still plans to prosecute Zamago-Mena. The material taken by officers from Zamago-Mena’s truck in February 2011 has already tested positive for heroin, police said.
Court records, meanwhile, lay out Jenkins’ long history of troubles with the law. He pleaded guilty in Will County to four counts of burglary in 2004, records show. Prosecutors at the time said Jenkins admitted to breaking into several storage units in Mokena.
His criminal history in Cook County dates to 1986, when he was found guilty of burglary and possessing burglars’ tools. He was ordered to pay back $300 and serve 1 1/2 years on probation, which he violated.
He served prison time on a 2003 burglary and a 2006 drug case, and he’s been arrested a dozen or so more times in Midlothian on lesser charges including criminal trespass, possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia, and violating orders of protection issued against him three times by the same woman.
He appeared to live briefly in Crestwood during 2008, when he was charged with telephone harassment and violating an order of protection.
Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick