On December 19, 2017, it was reported to the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) that a coin machine had been damaged and U.S. currency stolen at the Salt Blaster Boat Wash, located at 614 Port Leon Drive in St. Marks. Video surveillance footage was reviewed which showed a pick-up truck backing up to the coin machine at approximately 1:57 a.m. on December 19, 2017. Two males exited the truck, one of which was wearing a camouflage hat, and attached a strap to the machine. The suspect in the camouflage hat used several different types of burglar tools including a crowbar and pliers to retrieve the U.S. currency. The damage to the coin machine was estimated at $4,000. On April 14, 2018, an ice vending machine was damaged and U.S. currency stolen at Jerry’s Bait & Tackle, located at 664 Woodville Highway in Crawfordville. The damage to the vending machine was approximately $600. Patrol Deputies took the initial reports of these crimes and the reports were turned over to Detectives assigned to the Property Crimes Unit of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) for investigation.
CID Detectives determined that Carl Justin Tanner and Justin Wade Gower had conducted the theft at the Salt Blaster Boat Wash. Further, Mr. Gower had fled Wakulla County in an attempt to avoid arrest and prosecution. CID Detectives elected to obtain an arrest warrant for Mr. Gower, and to make a probable cause arrest of Mr. Tanner at the appropriate juncture. On March 1, 2018, CID Detectives obtained arrest warrants charging Mr. Gower with Larceny and Criminal Mischief. On April 14, 2018, Leon County SO Detectives investigated a series of vending machine thefts that had been perpetrated in a similar manner to the ones in Wakulla County and two persons of interest were developed, Justin Wade Gower and Melissa DeGraw.
On April 17, 2018, Wakulla County CID Detectives traveled to Leon County in furtherance of investigating these thefts. With the assistance of Leon County SO Detectives and the Leon County SPIDER Unit, Mr. Gower and Ms. DeGraw were apprehended. During a custodial interrogation, Ms. DeGraw admitted to her involvement in the theft on April 14, 2018, from Jerry’s Bait & Tackle, as well as other crimes. Mr. Gower was interrogated and confessed to the criminal mischief and theft on December 19, 2017, from the Salt Blaster Boat Wash, and the criminal mischief and theft to the ice vending machine on April 14, 2018, at Jerry’s Bait & Tackle, as well as other crimes. Mr. Gower was charged with Molesting a Coin Machine with Larceny (a felony due to two or more previous convictions) and Criminal Mischief in addition to the active arrest warrants for his arrest. Arrest warrants are being drafted charging Ms. DeGraw with Molesting a Coin Machine with Theft, and Criminal Mischief.
Through the investigation and interrogations of Ms. DeGraw and Mr. Gower, CID Detectives gleaned information which led to the discovery of an unreported criminal mischief and theft which occurred at the Salt Blaster Boat Wash on or about April 6, 2018. Detectives also identified and interrogated Eric Cardin on April 18, 2018, and he confessed to the criminal mischief and theft which occurred on April 6, 2018, from the Salt Blaster Boat Wash. Detectives contacted the owner of the business who provided surveillance footage depicting the criminal mischief and theft by Mr. Cardin. Mr. Cardin is currently incarcerated in the Leon County Jail. Wakulla County CID Detectives plan to obtain an arrest warrant charging Mr. Cardin with Larceny and Criminal Mischief.