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Investigators place charges after cellphone found at burglary scene

Becky Campbell • Jul 25, 2018 at 9:32 AM

A Washington County man who police said left his cellphone in a houseboat that wasn’t his was arrested this week on a burglary charge.

Derek Paul Morgan, 35, 135 Buttermilk Road No. 1, Gray, became a suspect in the burglary after the boat owner found the man’s cellphone inside the ransacked vessel, which was docked near Morgan’s residence.

According to a warrant filed in Washington County General Sessions Court on July 13, boat owner Chip Rhea went to his houseboat on Boone Lake and discovered the door was damaged. Authorities said it was just one in a rash of houseboat break-ins in the Buttermilk Road area. The interior of the boat had been ransacked and several items stolen — including a Vizio television.

Another discovery Rhea made was an unfamiliar cellphone, which he gave to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. An investigator obtained a search warrant for the phone and found a selfie of Morgan on it as well as other identifying information, which led to Morgan’s arrest on Monday.

Additionally, the selfie was taken on July 11, which was the same day officers were dispatched to Buttermilk Road about a suspicious person in the area. Deputy Taylor Hayes encountered Morgan during that investigation and the incident was documented. At the time, there was apparently no reason to file any charges against Morgan.

Morgan was being held on a $15,000 bond and was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday afternoon. More charges are pending in the case, officials said.

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