Suspect wanted after missing hearing
A South Charleston man charged with breaking into homes and cars in a South Hills neighborhood is wanted after missing a hearing in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Residents in the Longridge Road area of South Hills were anxious to learn what would happen when Thomas Burton Lloyd, 24, appeared again before a judge to answer for incidents that have occurred while he has been free on bond. But Lloyd failed to appear in court Tuesday morning.
Judge Carrie Webster issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
Charleston detectives had arrested Lloyd in February after a rash of burglaries in that section of South Hills off Hampton Road.
A search of the Longridge Road home of Lloyd's grandmother, where Lloyd had been staying, turned up a number of stolen items including a laptop computer from a neighbor's home and ammunition from a gun stolen from another neighbor's home, said Charleston Detective Canden Sharp.
He was charged with three counts of breaking and entering a vehicle, two counts of nighttime burglary and one count of daytime burglary. He faces similar charges in Jackson County, detectives said.
The South Hills houses that were robbed could be seen from Lloyd's grandmother's home, Sharp said.
Residents in that area became concerned about their safety and their belongings.
Bill Gardner lived around the bend from George Warner, one of Lloyd's alleged victims, and often spent time with the older man. The home of Warner, who was 85 when he died earlier this year, was broken into multiple times.
After these incidents Gardner gave him a gun, ammunition and a dog to protect his home. That gun ended up being stolen from the house one evening when Gardner and Kasey Warner took the elder Warner to dinner.
The ammunition was found in Lloyd's bedroom in his grandmother's home, the detective said.
Kasey Warner, George Warner's son and a former U.S. attorney, was frustrated about his father's ordeal. Then his vehicles were broken into.
Gardner went door-to-door to speak to neighbors about the burglaries.
"They knew who it was but didn't want to talk," Warner said. "They were afraid. Some of them didn't report that they were ever robbed."
Warner said several residents bought guns to protect themselves.
"This is the community I was born in," he said. "It's gotten so bad you can't go to the door to ask for sugar because you're scared you'll get shot."
Lloyd agreed to plead guilty in October to burglary and was set to be sentenced Nov. 26 but withdrew his plea.
Sharp said Lloyd had been arrested again since his February arrest for domestic battery and malicious wounding but the charge had been dropped.
"I'm looking forward to going to trial," Sharp said. "We've got a good solid case. We've done a lot of work, put a lot of man-hours and city money into getting this guy off the street."
Gardner and Warner complained about a lack of communication between police, prosecutors and the court.
Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants said his office has made Webster aware of "absolutely everything" it has in Lloyd's case. One of his bond stipulations was that he not use narcotics.
"While he's been out, he's (overdosed) twice," Plants said. "My office found out at a hearing that this guy went to the hospital."
Plants said his office has sought two bond revocations since Lloyd's arrest and Webster granted one but denied the other.
"We've done all we can do, given every fact to the judge and opposed bond," Plants said. "At the end of the day setting bond lies with the judge, not the prosecutor."
Lloyd remains at large. Anyone with information can contact city detectives at 304-348-6480.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4850.