5 Relatives, Friends Charged In 41 Break-Ins

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (AP) - Five people, including a married couple and the wife's teen-age son, have been charged in 41 burglaries over two months in four counties. Knox County Prosecutor John Baker said the suspects may be responsible for more burglaries in north central Ohio.

A Knox County grand jury on Monday issued multiple-count indictments against Billy Blythe and his wife, Shirley Blythe, both of Mount Vernon; Randy McGregor and Timothy Smith, both of Fredericktown; and Shirley Blythe's 15-year-old son, who lives with the couple.

About $200,000 worth of property was stolen from Jan. 28 to Feb. 15 in Knox, Morrow, Richland and Ashland counties, Baker said in a news release.

Billy Blythe, 44, was in the Morrow County jail Monday night, charged with 39 counts of burglary and two counts of attempted burglary; Shirley Blythe, 46, was jailed in Knox County, charged with helping her husband in 27 burglaries and the two attempts.

Smith, 20, who is Shirley Blythe's nephew, and McGregor, 18, his best friend, were in the Richland County jail. Smith, charged in eight break-ins, is listed in jail records as living with the Blythes, instead of the address in the indictment. McGregor is charged with 28 counts of burglary and one of attempted burglary.

Prosecutors have filed a motion to try the 15-year-old as an adult, Baker said, adding he was in custody without naming the juvenile detention center. He is charged with helping in five break-ins, Baker said.

Nearly all the break-ins were committed in the daytime when residents were at work, shopping or at church, Baker said.

"The doors were usually kicked open, occasionally pried open, and sometimes were left unlocked," he said.

Baker said that as the Blythes left a burglarized home on Feb. 15 just west of Centerburg, the homeowners' son drove by, spotted them and called police. The couple led sheriff's deputies from Knox and Morrow counties on a high-speed chase before ditching their car and running through the woods, he said. Both were arrested later that night.

Stolen property was recovered at the couple's home, Baker said.

"I'm certain that there are unsolved burglaries still out there that can be attributed to one or more of the individuals already charged," Baker said.

Baker urged people in north central Ohio whose homes were broken into between Jan. 1 and Feb. 16 to call their local sheriff's office.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)