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Southwest Virginia men plead guilty to breaking into apartment

Wes Bunch • Jul 13, 2013 at 5:47 PM

GATE CITY — Two Southwest Virginia men pleaded guilty in Scott County court earlier this week to using the attic of a Duffield apartment building to break in to a neighboring residence.

Randolph J. Willis, 26, 169 Sanders Circle, Apt. 102, Duffield, and Aaron Z. Collins, 19, of Coeburn, both pleaded guilty to multiple charges of breaking and entering and grand larceny during circuit court appearances Wednesday.

Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marcus McClung said several other charges against the pair have been placed under advisement for the time being.

Both Willis and Collins are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9.

McClung said the men were indicted in April for the burglary, which occurred in November 2012 at the Thomas Village Apartments in Duffield.

McClung said Willis and Collins carried out the robbery via a small attic area above the apartments in the building.

“The neighbor living next to Mr. Willis said her apartment had been broken into,” McClung said. “There were no signs of forced entry, but she was sure she had locked her front and back doors and her windows. There was a small attic space above the apartments divided by a wall. (Willis and Collins) broke through it and were able to access the apartment next door.”

The Scott County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the men after deputies were dispatched to Willis’ apartment earlier this year on a domestic dispute.

After arriving at the scene and encountering Willis and an unidentified female, authorities reportedly began inquiring about the burglary that had occurred earlier at the townhouse apartments.

Authorities said they were told by witnesses at the complex that Willis and Collins were responsible for the November break-in and theft. The tipster also told deputies that stolen items were stored in the attic of Willis’ apartment.

Deputies received consent to search the apartment and reportedly discovered several items that had been taken during the burglary nearly three months earlier.

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