December 19, 2011

Home invasion, arson leads to arrest of Ott’s robbery suspects

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The sharp observance of relatives and neighbors were key factors to the arrests of two persons responsible for several burglaries and thefts in recent weeks.

Joshua N. Westerfield, 23, and 29-year-old Natalee Wood, both of Old Somerset Road (Ky. 1956), were arrested following an intense investigation by Laurel County Sheriff’s officials. Westerfield is charged with first-degree robbery, third-degree burglary, and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. Additional charges of first- and second-degree burglary are expected later.

Wood is charged with third-degree burglary.

Their arrests wind down a crime spree that began on Nov. 30. Two of those crimes occurred at Ott’s Grocery — the first on Nov. 30 with an armed robbery and the second on Dec. 10 with a forced entry burglary. Ott’s Grocery owner Ricky Ott said the Nov. 30 armed robbery was the first time the store had ever experienced a holdup in its 137-year history.

Westerfield reportedly stole a gun from his neighbor, Rachel Helton, who lives next door in an apartment building located 10 miles west of London near the Laurel-Rockcastle County line. This gun was used by Westerfield in the Ott’s Grocery armed robbery. Wood was reportedly waiting on Westerfield in her orange Cavalier as the escape vehicle.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 10, Westerfield and Wood are accused of breaking a window of Ott’s Grocery and stealing merchandise from the store. The getaway vehicle used in that incident was a red Toyota pickup truck belonging to Westerfield’s grandparents.

Their crime spree spiraled down after they were spotted at another residence in the Swiss Colony community on Monday. In that incident, a neighbor and relatives noticed a blue Toyota Camry at Kathy Walden’s home. When they pulled into the driveway to investigate, a male and female ran out of the home and escaped, but not before the relatives copied the license tag number and called police.

That information was paramount in helping police identify the pair, and members of the Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police went to the apartment where the couple resided on Monday night. During the search, they discovered several items taken during the Ott’s store burglary. At the same time, a vehicle fire was reported on Eagle Creek Road off Ky. 1247, about two miles from the couple’s residence. The vehicle torched was the Toyota Camry used in the Walden burglary.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rockcastle County Deputy Tommy Bullock relayed information that the suspects were at their residence, and police immediately converged and placed the pair under arrest. The stolen pistol used in the Ott’s Grocery robbery was found at Westerfield’s grandparents’ home.

Officers assisting during the two-day investigation and search for the suspects were:

Sheriff John Root, Chief  Deputy Eddy Sizemore, Sgt. Rodney Vanzant, Sgt. Josh Gaylor, Sgt. Greg Poynter, Deputy Gilbert Acciardo, Deputy James Sizemore, Deputy Greg Turner, and Detective Daryl Zanet, Detective Sgt. Tommy Johnston, and Detective Charlie Loomis; London Police Detective Sgt. Gary Proffitt; Kentucky State Police Lt. Curtis O’Bannon, Sgt. Tom Atkin, Trooper Jack Riley, and Trooper Richie Baxter; and Rockcastle Sheriff’s Deputy Tommy Bullock.