Muddy tire tracks lead police to trail of evidence in reported burglary case

ST. GEORGE — Two suspects were arrested facing felony burglary and other charges after Washington City officers said they followed muddy tire tracks that went from a home where a burglary occurred to the residence of one of the suspects located less than a half-mile away.

Stock image of Washington City Police patrol vehicles | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

On Friday, officers were dispatched to a home in Washington City to follow up on a report of a residential burglary that took place sometime during the previous night. 

According to the probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests, officers met with the 911 caller who said the suspect broke into the home by prying open the back door. When officers approached the rear of the residence, they reportedly noticed damage to the door and hinge that was consistent with it being pried open, as well as a crowbar lying on the ground nearby.

The reporting party also provided a list of the items that were missing from the home, along with serial numbers and other identifying information to help identify the items. The estimated value of the items was in excess of $5,000. 

The homeowner led officers to an area on the property where they found a set of tire track that were still visible in the mud following a recent rain. The report noted that from the tire tracks, it appeared the suspect’s vehicle backed in toward the rear of the residence, which the officer stated was likely “to allow easy access for the stolen property.” 

Near the rear door, officers noticed two different sets of shoeprints in the mud. The same tread marks were also visible as muddy shoeprints inside of the home.

The report states that investigators were able to follow the muddy tire tracks to the north three streets away, where the tracks ended abruptly. Officers found a pickup truck and a motorcycle parked in front of the home, both of which were registered to 29-year-old Kenneth Blake Nielsen. 

On the porch, officers also found a pair of muddy boots that were reportedly consistent, both in size and tread, with the prints found at the scene of the burglary. 

“The shoe print matched perfectly,” the officer noted, adding he took photographs of the boots and then left for a brief time. When he returned to the porch, however, the boots were gone.  

Officers said when they knocked on the door, a man answered who was not Nielsen. When the officer asked where the boots had gone, the man allegedly said he didn’t know, adding that he was alone in the house when officers inquired about Nielsen. 

Armed with a search warrant, officers entered the home and found Nielsen, who was taken into custody. In the meantime, officers searched the home and recovered several of the items that matched the property taken during the residential burglary reported nearby; however, several of the items were still unaccounted for.

Stock image | Photo by Tanawut Punketnakorn/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Officers found a key during a search of Nielsen’s person, which they used to unlock a small drawer. Inside they recovered a large amount of suspected methamphetamine, along with numerous plastic baggies and a small scale, which the report states led officers to believe Nielsen was distributing the drugs. 

Authorities also recovered several pipes, bongs and other paraphernalia during a search of the suspect’s home.  

Nielsen was then transported to the Washington City Police Department, and during an interview, he allegedly admitted to going to the home with a friend to steal property and said it was the friend who was able to breach the door before both entered the residence. 

According to the report, they took several items that were loaded into the vehicle and then both returned to the residence where officers found them later. 

Officers also noted that Nielsen said he kept some of the property, while the rest went with his friend. 

Nielsen was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing three second-degree felony charges that include one count each of burglary, theft and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. He also faces criminal mischief and possession of paraphernalia, each a misdemeanor. 

Meanwhile, officers were able to identify the second suspect believed to have been involved in the incident, Jesse Walter Segler, who was located at his home in Washington City. The report states that while speaking with police, Segler admitted to going to the residence with Nielsen and stealing the property.

Segler then took officers to the garage where the items were stored, and the property was then turned over to police. 

The only item not recovered from either residence was some grounding wire that officers learned was later allegedly given to a friend of Segler’s and sold. 

Segler was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing one count each of burglary and theft, each a second-degree felony, along with one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief. 

Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained. 

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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