Five charged with burglarizing closed Monongahela school

May 27, 2014

Five people, including three juveniles, were arrested in connection with the burglary earlier this month of the former Monongahela Elementary Center.

Wyatt Ekaitis, 23, of 2134 River Hill Road, Monongahela, is charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, institutional vandalism, corruption of minors and theft. Sharon Wooddell, 43, of 419 Sixth St., Monongahela, is charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, criminal trespass, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children.

Monongahela police received an alarm call from the now-closed building on Chess Street May 6. Police found a broken window and discovered the building was entered.

Copper was stolen from the boiler room. In the process of the theft, asbestos in the room was disturbed. Police Chief Brian Tempest said the police department since received a letter from the school district notifying officers not to enter the building because of the asbestos. School officials also placed a warning on the doors to the building.

During the investigation, it was determined the building had been burglarized several times. The copper allegedly was sold at a local scrap yard by Ekaitis. Police said they learned he had made seven transactions involving copper.

Three 15-year-olds are charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, institutional vandalism and criminal trespass. One of the two Monongahela boys charged was placed in Jefferson County (Ohio) Juvenile Detention Center. He had been on juvenile probation for bringing two knives and a pellet gun to school. The other boy from Monongahela and a girl from New Eagle were released to their parents.

Ekaitis also was arraigned before District Judge Curtis Thompson on charges of simple assault, criminal mischief and harassment. He is accused of punching James Quigley on May 9 at the intersection of Second and Union streets. Monongahela police said Quigley’s glasses were broken in the assault. Thompson set bond at $5,000 for the assault charges and $20,000 for the burglary. Ekaitis was placed in Washington County jail. Wooddell was released from jail Tuesday after posting $20,000 bond.

A preliminary hearing is tentatively set for June 6 before District Judge Mark Wilson.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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