PIERCETON — A Claypool man faces charges for his alleged involvement in a January home invasion.
Ethan E. Ratliff, 19, 2988 East CR 900S, Claypool, is charged with burglary, a level 2 felony; intimidation with a deadly weapon, a level 5 felony; residential entry, a level 6 felony; pointing a firearm a class A misdemeanor; and criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Jan. 10, a Kosciusko County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a residence in reference to a burglary in progress committed by two armed subjects.
Upon arrival, the deputy saw that the garage service door had been kicked in and the garage entry door into the residence had been forced open. As the deputy proceeded to secure the residence, he found a juvenile hiding in an upstairs bedroom.
Additional law enforcement officers arrived at the scene to assist.
While surveying the burglary scene, deputies found a broken window into a basement utility room and documented footprints in the snow trailing from the suspect vehicle tire tracks to the broken window of the basement utility room.
The tire tread was also documented by deputies, who followed the tracks and found that the path used to exit the residence is not visible from the roadway. They determined that only someone familiar with the property would have knowledge of the path.
Officers spoke with the minor, who described hearing banging in the garage. The minor then attempted to flee upstairs after hearing a window shatter; however, the youth was confronted by two men, believed to have been in their late teens or early 20s, wearing masks and dark clothing.
The two men were armed with firearms.
The men allegedly pointed their firearms at the minor and ordered the minor to get down on the floor.
Once the minor was on the floor, the two men exited the residence and fled the scene in an unknown vehicle.
Deputies followed the tire tracks in the snow west through the woods and observed that at the point where the vehicle exited the property, it crashed through a fence in order to get back onto CR 300N.
Based upon the position of the tire tracks, deputies determined that the getaway vehicle would likely have significant damage to the left side of the vehicle and would also likely have scratch marks from the barbed wire fencing.
KCSO was able to secure video surveillance from the area which showed a black passenger vehicle exiting the area of CR 300N at the time of the burglary.
Based upon the suspects targeting the utility room and the fact that the subjects used an unknown path to exit the property, detectives believed that at least one of the men involved in the burglary had prior knowledge of the property.
Deputies learned that Ratliff lived at the residence for a period of time and that he owned a black 2008 Ford Focus.
On Jan. 20, deputies conducted an unrelated traffic stop on Ratliff as he was driving his Ford Focus. Ratliff said that he is the only one who drives his Ford Focus but said he did not do the damage seen on the vehicle. Deputies observed damage to the front left corner of the bumper and lower left windshield as well as scratches down the driver side of the vehicle. The driver’s side mirror was also missing.
The damage was consistent with what would have occurred when crashing through the fence while exiting the property of the residence.
During the traffic stop, deputies took photographs of the rear tires.
On Feb. 3, detectives spoke with Ratliff about the Jan. 10 home invasion. Ratliff confirmed that he previously lived at the residence but said he has not been at or near the residence during 2021.
Ratliff said the damage to his vehicle was from him attempting to go under a railroad crossing arm. He told deputies he has since sold the vehicle to a person in Mishawaka.
Ratliff also provided personal information during the interview, including his current cell phone number.
A search of Ratliff’s cellular call detail records showed that Ratlifff’s phone was at or near the location of the residence at 12:15 p.m. Jan. 10.
At approximately 11:34 a.m. Jan. 10, Ratliff’s cell phone is observed hitting off two cellular towers, with one tower being north of the residence and one tower south of the residence. Shortly after 11:34 a.m. during the time of the home invasion, there was no activity on Ratliff’s phone. When activity resumed at approximately 12:15 p.m., Ratliff’s phone was mapped south of the residence.
The documented tire tread evidence was also examined. The tire tread on Ratliff’s Ford Focus matched the tire tread evidence collected at the scene. It was noted that the distinct tire tread pattern was detected at both the burglary scene and on the Ford Focus.
Ratliff was booked at the Kosciusko County Jail Sept. 21, on a $25,250 surety and cash bond.