Two Falkner men charged in 19 church, residential burglaries

RIPLEY – Ripley and Tippah authorities have charged two Falkner men with 19 counts of breaking into churches and businesses last month. Officers say the investigation reaches into Benton County, and more arrests are expected.

Investigators have recovered guns, tires, and many other items in connection with the burglaries and are seeking other items, they said.

Ripley Police Chief Scott White said William David Nelson, 21, and Ryan Heath Miskelly, 19, are each charged with eight counts of burglary.

Tippah Sheriff Karl Gaillard said the two men are each charged with 11 counts of burglary. All the burglaries happened between May 9-20, investigators said.

The two are being held on $100,000 bond each, according to Tippah County Jail records.

Police Investigator Scott Watson said the men are each charged with breaking into Colom Construction, Ripley Trade Day Mall, Luna Brothers Car Sales, Ripley Feed Store, Mr. Used Cars, McLemore Car Sales, and an attempted break-in at Smith’s Trailer Store.

Recovered items from the city break-ins include a 32 inch TV, booster box, .38 revolver and cash taken in the Colom burglary. The only other city break-in where anything else was taken was the feed store, and only small change was taken from there, Watson said.

He said the two were looking for money — and anything that could be sold for cash — to buy drugs.

County Investigator Josh Bateman said the two are each charged in connection with break-ins at New Salem Church in Walnut, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Falkner, New Covenant Christian Assembly in Falkner, Falkner Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. Olive Church in Ripley, and burglaries at a series of businesses including Tippah County Growers in Falkner, the Falkner Park concession stand, Falkner High School, North Mississippi Tires in Ripley, a vehicle burglary in Falkner in which two rifles and a handgun were stolen, and a residence burglary in which six more handguns were stolen.

Officers eventually ran search warrants at each man’s residence, and two other places, and found a quantity of stolen items. He said the handguns have all been recovered, along with a number of tires.

Bateman said the cases against the two men began to build after Nelson was found passed out in his mother’s truck at Pine Grove School Tuesday morning. Investigation quickly linked Miskelly to the case, and the search warrants soon followed.

A number of stolen items remain unrecovered, including keys, a DVR box, and an empty safe. Anyone with information about the items is asked to call the Ripley Police or the Tippah County Sheriff’s Department.