NANTICOKE, Pa. -- Over the last three months, police say neighborhoods in Luzerne County have been plagued with burglaries. Now that two suspects are behind bars, they hope this string of break-ins will come to an end
William McDowell and Erika Bowersox are behind bars without bail, and Nanticoke police credit a homeowner for helping them crack the case. They think this may be part of a big burglary ring.
Items were removed from an apartment on West Union Street in Nanticoke by police and state troopers as part of a burglary investigation. Police say this was the home of William McDowell and Erika Bowersox, who are now in custody after the two were caught breaking into a house a few blocks away on East Noble Street early Sunday morning.
Eric Bieski says he took over his grandmother's house on East Noble Street in Nanticoke after she suffered a stroke and moved out, and when he was out of town over Thanksgiving, someone broke in and stole valuable items.
"I went through a wide range of emotions anger, afraid that it could happen again," Bieski said.
On Sunday morning, that's exactly what happened.
Police believe McDowell and Bowersox burglarized the home in November and came back last weekend to do it again, but this time Bieski was home.
"I was awoken by two people in my house around 5:30 6 a.m.," he recalled.
"My instincts kicked in, and I got up and screamed 'get out of my house!' They ran out the side door here, so I gave pursuit in my bare feet, and I chased them."
Bieski tells Newswatch 16 after he caught up with McDowell and tackle him to the ground, he called out for help. Luckily, workers at the Sanitary Bakery heard him and called 911.
"They were a godsend. They were my angels that day. I was able to yell to them, and they called the cops and 911, and I was able to hold the guy in place until the cops were able to come," Bieski said.
We found police taking items out of McDowell and Bowersox's apartment.
"I don't feel sorry for them, that's one thing. They're going to get what they deserve, that's my thinking," said neighbor Celia Jennings.
Police believe these suspects are responsible for up to 50 break-ins that have taken place in Nanticoke, Hanover Township, and Newport Township over the last three months.
"The subjects would go into homes that were listed probably as foreclosures or sheriff's sale. They were also known to enter garages and sheds," said Nanticoke Police Chief Robert Lehman.
Newswatch 16 watched investigators remove records, furniture, and collectible weapons from the home as well as a black cat and a dog.
"If anybody has any items they have discovered missing like the chief said, we're looking for rare coins, swords, gold. We have some football memorabilia contact either the state police, the Shickshinny barracks has some cases as well as the Nanticoke City police," said Trooper Kyle Gruber, Pennsylvania State Police.
Police say they are searching for a third person, Nicholas Jamilowski, for questioning in connection with the case.
Investigators say McDowell was a person of interest in another theft case, prior to Sunday morning's break-in, but were able to catch up with him because the homeowner chased him down
"I know if somebody broke in my son's house, he'd be after them, too. He said you can't let them get away because they keep on doing it," Jennings said.
Bieski says he has no ill will for the suspects.
"The truth is that this guy had problems. He has drug problems, and it's really sad. I know a lot of people that I went to high school with, and it's a plague on not only our area, our country. And I said to him, 'you have problems.' And I'll be honest with you, the first thing I did when I got home, my Gram has got an alter upstairs, and I got on my hands and knees, and I prayed for him. You know I hope he gets the help he needs, and I hope she gets the help she needs and anyone else. This was all fueled by drugs," Bieski said.