School burglary suspect denies crime before police tell him why he was being interviewed

Jeff Bobo • Jan 28, 2013 at 9:19 AM

CHURCH HILL — A Hawkins County man accused of breaking into Carters Valley Elementary School last week was allegedly denying his role in the crime before police ever told him why he was being interviewed.

Church Hill Police Department Officer Dustin Dean responded to CVES Tuesday morning where principal Lisa Manis reported someone had gained entry to the school the night before by breaking her office window.

The suspect had allegedly broken into another office and stolen $250 from a safe.

Dean said school video surveillance shows a white male wearing a gray hoodie, dark colored coat, blue jeans and black shoes walk around the school looking into windows shortly before 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“The same white male is shown moments later damaging a camera to keep from being captured on video,” Dean stated in his report. “At no time prior to, or after the incident, did a vehicle enter or exit the parking lot. I went to the Whistle Stop Market and M&M Tiny Giant, located next to the school, and asked employees to call if they had seen anyone walking in the area the previous night.”

Dean said that around 2 p.m. he received a call from a witness who claimed to have seen James Blake McFarland, 25, 186 Jones Road, Church Hill, walking on Carters Valley Road near the school shortly after 8 p.m.

The witness stated McFarland was wearing “a gray hoodie, dark colored coat, blue jeans and black shoes and had on gray colored gloves.”

Dean then went to speak to McFarland at his Jones Road residence. Dean said he advised McFarland of his Miranda rights and said he wanted to speak to him about a recent incident.

Dean said, “He replied, ‘I have not went anywhere and stole nothing’. I stated to McFarland that I had not advised him of why I was there yet, nor had I mentioned that anything was stolen.” McFarland allegedly stated he had not left the house in two weeks due to being unemployed and that he “just sits at home with his children,” Dean said.

McFarland’s girlfriend reportedly told Dean she didn’t see him leave the residence, but she wasn’t home the entire time.

Dean added, “During this time James McFarland stated ‘I do not know what this is about, but they said I stole something from the Church Hill Middle School’. I advised McFarland at no time had anyone mentioned a theft or an incident at a school.”

Another occupant of that residence allegedly stated McFarland left the house around dark, but she later changed her story. A third occupant said McFarland had gone outside to cut firewood.

When confronted with the witness identification, McFarland reportedly stated the witness was lying.

McFarland added, that occupants of his household who said he’d left around sundown “can’t tell time.”

McFarland was charged with burglary, theft under $500 and vandalism under $500.

He was arraigned Monday in Hawkins County Sessions Court. As of Monday afternoon he remained held in jail on $50,000 bond.

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