Police in Cedar Rapids are calling it the case of the Christmas Grinch.
On the night of December 10, a kitchen fire in a home on the city’s southeast side forced a family of six to spend the night in a hotel. When the Brownfield family returned the next day, they discovered thousands of dollars worth of items missing.
Matthew Brownfield says the items included wrapped Christmas presents for his four kids, who are between the ages of 5 and 11. Brownfield later realized two cell phones were missing. He used the Internet to track the phones. “Both of the cell phones ‘pinged’ to not even two or three blocks away,” Brownfield said.
This week, police arrested 30-year-old Shellie Everts, who lives just one block from the Brownfield’s home, on charges of third-degree burglary. Brownfield recognized Everts as one of two women who were outside his home the night of the fire. “They were both standing there, right with us, with our kids,” Brownfield said. “One even offered a coat to our children. It’s just mind boggling to think…now finding out they had something to do with (the burglary).” Brownfield estimates $23,000 worth of property was stolen – including a TV, a Wii system, DVDs and cameras.
Cedar Rapids Police Sergeant Cristy Hamblin says Everts’ record includes previous convictions for theft and assault. “She knew they were gone and she helped herself out by stealing their presents,” Hamblin said. “What kind of human being would do something as despicable as that?”
Brownfield says insurance should cover some of the losses because of the theft. The family is looking for a new house.
by Chris Earl, KCRG-TV