CLEARFIELD – Two burglary suspects who are saying they committed the crime while in search of water were scheduled for preliminary hearings Wednesday.
Joel Riley McClellan, 19, and Heather Lynn Ricciotti, 45, both of Coalport, have been charged by Trooper Dennis D. Peters of the Clearfield-based state police with felony counts of burglary and criminal trespass; a misdemeanor count of theft by unlawful taking; and a summary count of criminal mischief.
Ricciotti waived her right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday during centralized court at the Clearfield County Jail. McClellan had his hearing continued until 10 a.m. Dec. 12.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Peters was dispatched to a report of a camp burglary at approximately 12:42 p.m. July 1 on Stanley Lane in Gulich Township.
On-scene Peters spoke with the victim, who related he had arrived at approximately 7:30 a.m. June 29 and discovered his boots from his front porch were in the middle of the roadway.
Inside his camp, he found that a bottle of coke and a few beers were missing from a 12-pack in the refrigerator. He looked around some more and discovered other things were “out of the ordinary.”
More specifically, he found a box of Oreo cookies was missing, as well as a flashlight from his gun cabinet and a brown curtain from a bag in the living area.
Also, he said all the breakers were turned on in the breaker box. He was unable to determine how the intruders gained entry, as all the doors had been locked.
The victim told Peters that he thought the stolen items had a total value of around $25-$30.
Later July 1, state police interviewed a second victim whose camp is also located on Stanley Lane and includes two garages directly to its left.
He said he was last at his camp June 24, and before leaving, he locked all its doors and windows. On June 28, he received an alert from his “ring.com” doorbell that there was movement at the camp at approximately 5:25 a.m.
He said he received several more alerts of activity but never contacted anyone about them. Later that afternoon, his son went to the camp and saw damage to the bottom of the garage door.
The victim said he went to his camp that evening to observe the damage. While there, he found a flashlight, which belonged to the first victim, on his picnic table under the porch and returned it.
He obtained footage from the “ring.com” camera and provided a copy to Peters. In the video, he pointed out a brown curtain around a woman’s neck and indicated it was stolen from the first victim’s camp.
Peters took still screenshots from the video footage and released them to local news media in an effort to identify the two suspects. On July 5, he received information that identified them as McClellan and Ricciotti.
During an interview July 16, Ricciotti said on the night of June 27 and morning of June 28, she and McClellan were out riding a four-wheeler when it ran out of gas.
She said it was still dark out, they were walking in the woods and they both became very thirsty. She went on to say that McClellan was sick and they were in need of some water.
According to Ricciotti, they arrived on Stanley Lane and attempted to get water from an outdoor hose at the second victim’s camp. She was able to get a drink but the water ran out before McClellan could get one.
She said they attempted to get into the garage, but it was locked. She proceeded to lay down on the table beside the camp, while McClellan went down to the first victim’s camp.
She was not certain how McClellan got inside but shortly after, he came back and told her to come down.
Ricciotti said they went into the camp through the front door and while inside, she took some cheese, a blanket and bed sheet, two pink wine coolers, mint Oreo cookies, a water pitcher, a hatchet, a flashlight, an apple, two drinking glasses, paper towels and some ice cubes.
She said she gave McClellan a glass with ice but was uncertain what he did with it. She put on the victim’s boots because her shoes were wet and her feet were swelling but said she didn’t want to steal them so she left them there.
Ricciotti said she took the boots off and put them in the yard, which was possibly in the path to the camp. She said after sucking on some ice cubes, she and McClellan went back to the second victim’s garage.
She said they had observed several coolers and a refrigerator inside and thought there would be water in them to drink. She said McClellan “shook the door” and the “bottom fell out,” which allowed him to get inside.
According to Ricciotti, the hole was too small for her to fit through, so she went to the rear of the garage to try to enter through a window. However, it was locked and she pulled on the window frame, which broke off.
Unable to make entry through the window, she returned to the front garage door. She said McClellan didn’t locate anything inside the coolers and refrigerator, so they departed the area.
Ricciotti told Peters she ate the apple and took the other items with her, except for the drinking glasses and Oreo cookies. She believed she left them on the ground when she fell at some point. She also left behind the flashlight because “it looked expensive.”
She said she cut the blanket in half because it was too long and dragging on the ground. She gave the fitted sheet to McClellan and he wore it over his shoulders as they left the area.
Peters asked why she didn’t go to a home and ask a resident for water or assistance. She said she didn’t want anyone to think that she was “crazy.”
Ricciotti provided Peters with some of the stolen items she still had in her possession, including a blanket, water pitcher and hatchet.
On July 20, both Ricciotti and McClellan arrived at the state police barracks for the purposes of interviews and processing. During his interview, McClellan said they first went to the second victim’s camp in search of water.
He said he originally thought about ringing the doorbell but decided not to in case it was a security system. After he was unable to get water from an outdoor spout, they went to the garage beside the camp and saw coolers and a refrigerator inside.
According to McClellan, the door was locked, so he attempted to push it open, which caused the bottom to fall out. He crawled through the opening to look for water but didn’t find any, so he left and went to the first victim’s camp.
There, he walked onto the porch and knocked at the door, but no one answered it. He discovered the door was unlocked, so he entered the camp to look around.
McClellan said he located the breaker box and turned the power on with hopes of having the water pump come on, as well. In the refrigerator, he saw ice, wine coolers and beer, so he returned to the second victim’s camp to get Ricciotti.
He said he went back to the other camp with her and they ate some ice cubes and part of an apple. Afterward, he laid down on the floor while Ricciotti looked around.
McClellan said later they left the camp and went to a small creek behind it. However, they decided not to drink from it and instead walked about one-mile up the road to a church, where they were able to get some water.
Both Ricciotti and McClellan allegedly admitted they didn’t have permission from the victims to be on or inside their properties.