Five Arrested on Theft Charges

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – A twisted tale of drug possession and theft led to the arrests of five people in Houston County, late last week and over the weekend.

John Bozeman, 54, was arrested on Nov. 9 and charged with two counts of felony theft and one count of tampering with evidence. Cody Hopkins, 32, and Willie Hopkins, Sr., 73, were both arrested and charged with third degree felony theft on the same day.

Cody Hopkins

Jeri Lynn Kennedy, 33, was arrested on Nov. 10 and charged with burglary of a habitation and two counts of possession of a dangerous drug.

Bobby Jake Watson, 25, was arrested on Nov. 12 and charged with felony theft, tampering with evidence and possession of marijuana.

According to one of several probable cause affidavits filed in this matter, “Individuals identified in this probable cause (affidavit) and some who have not been mentioned, are involved in a complex organized crime investigation, with the underlying offense being felony theft.”

The first arrests occurred on Nov. 9 after Houston County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Deputy William Gardner received information from a complainant “… advising he had purchased a stolen camper (1969 Mobile Scout) from a residence in Grapeland, located on FM 2423, and was further advised that there was stolen property still at the residence.”

Deputy Gardner recognized the address as that of John Theodore Bozeman, from previous dealings with him.  Gardner and HCSO Investigator Jerry Kaelin traveled to Bozeman’s address to investigate the complaint and when they arrived at the location they “… observed several items that had previously been reported stolen, along with a 30-foot Frontier Box trailer, which had been reported stolen out of Walker County.”

Bozeman agreed to give a statement and indicated around Aug. 29, two men and three women “… had borrowed a trailer from another subject and brought stolen property, including the mobile scout camper, to his residence.”

In his statement, Bozeman alleged one of the men claimed ownership of the property and was wanting to sell all of it for money. A few days later, Bozeman indicated the man had left his property and taken the mobile scout camper. Several deer feeders, deer stands and a custom fire pit were left behind, however.

As the investigation unfolded, the law enforcement officials learned that two men and three women had made arrangements to borrow a trailer in order to travel to a location on CR 2120 “… where they cut the lock on the on the gate to gain access to the property. While on the property (one of the subjects) took photos with his cell phone of the mobile scout camper which he and (one of the female subjects) posted on the internet for sale. The subjects then stole deer feeders, deer stands, game cameras, hunting clothes, a BBQ pit, a custom oval fire pit a

Willie Hopkins

nd several more items from the property located on CR 2120. None of the individuals owned the property taken, nor owned the property it was taken from,” one of the affidavits stated.

As the investigation continued, it was learned the stolen property was transported to Bozeman’s property where it was unloaded, according to the affidavit.

From there the property was moved to a location in Weches. The property, including the box trailer was moved to the residence of Cody Hopkins where he, a female and Willie Hopkins, Sr. reside.  The property was then moved back to Bozeman’s residence.

“On Nov. 7, deputies arrived at the Hopkins residence and spoke to (the female), Cody Hopkins and Willie Hopkins about the incident. All parties denied any knowledge of the stolen trailer and allowed deputies to look around the property for any stolen items. While on the scene, the deputies took photographs of several items, for identification purposes, located in front of the residence,” the affidavit stated.

On Nov. 8, the original complainant was shown several of the photographs and identified some of the property as belonging to him. When deputies returned to the Hopkins address, they noticed several of the items seen the day before had been moved.

After observing a stolen pressure washer, which had been identified by the owner, both Cody and Willie Hopkins were arrested and charged with third degree felony theft.

As previously mentioned, when Gardner and Kaelin arrived at the Bozeman address, they observed several items reported stolen out of Walker County, including the 30-foot trailer.

“Deputies made contact with John Bozeman and (his father) regarding the stolen property and how it had come into John’s possession. Deputies learned that the trailer had been purchased by (the father) around Aug. 28 after it had been delivered to John Bozeman’s residence,” the affidavit indicated.

Bozeman’s father informed the law enforcement officials his son had brought Bobby Jake Watson to his residence and said Watson wanted to sell the 30 foot box trailer. (The father) further stated he purchased the trailer from Watson for $650 and “… was given a bill of sale signed by a James Charles Conway, which was a fictitious name.”

The affidavits further stated Watson had earlier contacted Bozeman in an attempt to sell the trailer and had promised to deliver the trailer to his residence.

Bobby Jake Watson

As the investigation uncovered more information, the affidavit reported Watson had met with two men at “… a residence located in the Porter Springs area and then helped transport the box trailer, pressure washer and a generator to Johns Bozeman’s residence.”

Once the trailer had been delivered to the Bozeman residence, the affidavit stated Bozeman and Watson went into a trailer home for several minutes while the other two men waited outside. According to the affidavit, Watson, Bozeman and one of the other two spoke at length about the price.

After a price had been agreed upon, Watson approached Bozeman’s father about purchasing the trailer for $650. After the money exchanged hands, Watson and the other two men departed from the Bozeman residence.

On Nov. 12, officers with the Crockett Police Department went to 412 Anson Jones St. to serve an arrest warrant on Watson. According to a different affidavit of probable cause, when Officer Bray Walter and Corporal Todd Little approached the front door, they observed it was open and noticed a strong smell of marijuana coming from inside the house.

“I (Little) walked up to the opened front door and observed Watson sitting just a few feet inside on the edge of the couch. I stepped in as I told Watson that he was under arrest for a warrant and started to place him into handcuffs. I then observed a small zip lock bag that contained marijuana on top of the couch where Watson was sitting,” an affidavit stated.

Watson was arrested for two warrants out of Houston County for theft, tampering with physical evidence and possession of marijuana.

The story doesn’t end there, however. After Bozeman was arrested on two counts of felony theft and one count of tampering with evidence on Nov. 9, another arrest tangentially connected to the theft occurred.

According to yet another affidavit, DPS Trooper Cody Woolley responded to a one vehicle wreck at approximately 6:16 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 10. The wreck occurred on FM 2423 and involved a white 2006 GMC pickup.

Woolley was informed by Houston County dispatch the vehicle had been reported stolen around the same time frame as the wreck was believed to have occurred.

As the trooper investigated the interior of the vehicle, he observed a purse containing a social security card belonging to Jeri Lynn Kennedy.

Jeri Lynn Kennedy

Woolley also discovered three prescription bottles in the vehicle. One belonged to Kennedy while the other two were prescribed to John Bozeman.

Deputy Garner, who had arrested Bozeman the previous day, was also present at the scene of the crash and “… determined from the contents of the work truck found at the scene of the accident that the vehicle could have possibly been leaving the scene of an unreported burglary when the accident occurred.”

Gardner traveled back to Bozeman’s residence and discovered the front door to the residence “… appeared to have been pried open and left unlocked. Deputy Gardner knew from the day prior that John Bozeman had locked his door when John had been placed under arrest. Deputy Garner also observed a green duffle bag full of knives, jewelry and assorted items that had been left near the driveway of the residence,” the affidavit stated.

As this new investigation unfolded, Gardner spoke with a witness who lived on the Bozeman property.

“The witness stated that Jeri Lynn Kennedy, after calling to confirm John had been arrested, arrived earlier that morning and stayed for approximately two hours before leaving. The witness stated that Jeri Lynn had arrived in a white work truck and from the description of the truck, Deputy Gardner knew it was the same vehicle that had been reported stolen and wrecked,” the affidavit stated.

Gardner then traveled back to the crash site and informed Woolley what he had learned. The two law enforcement officers next traveled to Kennedy’s residence which she shared with her boyfriend.

“After speaking to all parties present at the residence, officers learned that Jeri Lynn Kennedy had borrowed (her boyfriend’s) work truck to go to John Bozeman’s residence. Once there, Jeri entered the residence without John’s permission and loaded the work truck with items taken from inside the house. Jeri then left John’s residence where she wrecked the work truck shortly thereafter,” the affidavit reported.

She fled the scene of the wreck and was picked up by her boyfriend and another person who brought her back to her residence. After she was Mirandized, Kennedy admitted to the theft but said she had stolen the items from Bozeman’s residence because he had stolen from her in the past.

Kennedy was arrested at her residence and transported to the Houston County Jail where she was booked into custody on one count of burglary of a habitation and two counts of possession of a dangerous drug.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.