With residents' nerves already on edge in the aftermath of the unsolved slaying of an elderly woman living alone, authorities are now investigating a pair of brazen home break-ins on Greencastle's East Side.
Police Chief Tom Sutherlin was quick to point out that although the most recent crimes are obviously serious, authorities do not believe they are connected to the Aug. 30 assault of Essie Mae McVey, 85, in her Autumn Glen Village Condos residence.
"We do not believe they are related to the homicide," Sutherlin assured the Banner Graphic Wednesday evening.
Sometime between 11 p.m. Tuesday and 5 a.m. Wednesday two homes in the 900 block of East Washington Street (across from Greencastle High School) were entered by an intruder or intruders.
The alarming part of the incident is that in both cases the owners were home at the time of the break-ins, either asleep in bed or occupied elsewhere in the house, Chief Sutherlin said.
Taken from one residence were a laptop computer and a digital camera.
"Both of those items have been recovered," Sutherlin said.
The stolen items, however, have yet to be returned to the owners as police hope to obtain fingerprints or other evidence from them upon further investigation.
Taken from the second neighboring home on East Washington Street were a wallet and purse.
"We recovered those items outside in the yard," Sutherlin said. "The only thing that appeared to be missing there was cash."
Police did not immediately disclose how the homes were entered.
With veteran GPD Det. Randy Seipel currently focusing his attention on the McVey case, City Police Sgt. Chris Jones is investigating the theft cases.
"As far as he (Jones) knows," Sutherlin said, "those are the only things missing at this time."
The chief urges community residents to keep their doors locked, especially at night or when away from home.
"If you hear something in your home and think someone is in your house, don't hesitate to pick up the phone and call 911," he said, adding that the last thing a homeowner should do is try to confront an intruder.
While he knows some city residents are still apprehensive after the McVey death occurred and some of the details of the incomprehensible crime were made public, Sutherlin reiterated that authorities do not believe the thefts are related to the homicide.
Meanwhile, the GPD chief offered official word on the cause of death for the elderly widow who was found on the floor of her home by a home health care nurse mid-morning on Aug. 30.
She died at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, on Sept. 1.
"The final results of the autopsy did prove that she died from one gunshot wound (to the head)," Sutherlin said.
Authorities have no new leads and no suspects in the case at this time.