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'Pillowcase bandits' catching some zzz's in jail

July 09, 2008
A police chase involving law enforcement officers in Indiana and Kentucky ended with a three-hour manhunt that resulted in a pair of arrests. The incarceration of the two Indiana men responsible for the ordeal may put an end to a string of burglaries in both states.

Stepbrothers Christopher L. Rosebrock, 25, of Mauckport, and Bobby Cockerell, 30, of Jeffersonville, each were charged with single counts of reckless driving, a single misdemeanor count of resisting arrest and a single felony count of resisting arrest in Harrison County. Both men, who also face several burglary and other charges in Kentucky, were taken to the Harrison County Jail and held on $100,000 full-cash bonds.

Rosebrock was arrested June 24 while Cockerell turned himself in to the Harrison County Sheriff's Department the following Friday afternoon.

The two are suspects in at least eight burglaries across the Ohio River in Meade County and perhaps as many as 10 combined in Harrison and Crawford counties.

Meade County Sheriff William (Butch) Kerrick said the chase began June 26 shortly after 2 p.m. after a citizen in Brandenburg called police to report seeing a green Jeep Cherokee with temporary Indiana plates that matched the description of an SUV that may have been involved in numerous burglaries throughout the area. The caller followed the Jeep near the Brandenburg Bypass, where a police detective attempted to stop the vehicle. The SUV then sped away.

"I think at that time we knew we had the vehicle we were looking for," Kerrick said. "What we didn't know was that they had just committed two burglaries. We put out that these suspects were armed and dangerous and, in one of the burglaries, a weapon had been taken, so it was a very dangerous situation."

Police in Brandenburg deployed "stop stick" devices, but the SUV went through a ditch and missed the sticks and eventually headed toward Indiana. Two loaded .22 caliber handguns were thrown from the vehicle at some point during the chase, Kerrick said. Those handguns were later found by citizens and turned in to police.

"Thank God a kid didn't find them," Kerrick said. "They almost looked like toy guns, but they were loaded and ready to shoot."

Once in Indiana, the vehicle turned west off S.R. 135 and headed toward the Valley City area, where it eventually crashed near the intersection of Valley City-Mauckport Road and Faith Road. Both men then fled on foot.

The Harrison County Sheriff's Department set up a perimeter on all roads leading to and from the area and K-9 units from Milltown and Sellersburg Police departments and the Department of Natural Resources were called in to try and track the suspects. Also, a helicopter from the Indiana State Police offered aerial help with the search.

Initial attempts to identify the driver of the SUV were unsuccessful because the car's plates were temporary. Harrison County dispatchers ran the Vehicle Identification Number and the car came back to Clark County Auto Auction, which sold the car to Dale's Auto in Jeffersonville. The dealership was able to identify who purchased the car and the physical description of the owner, which returned to Cockerell's girlfriend.

After several hours of searching — with the K-9 units occasionally picking up scents of the suspects — Chief Eric Fischer and Sgt. Bryan Byrne, both of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department, decided to call off the search.

"Once we realized who they were, we decided to just abandon the search and go ahead with the prosecution stage and get warrants on them," Byrne said. "We were wearing the resources out. We had two sets of dogs that were exhausted and the helicopter had to refuel, so we decided to go get the warrants for the individuals and go from there."

A few minutes later, someone called the sheriff's department to report that an individual matching the description of one of the men was walking down his road. Byrne drove to the scene, where he found Rosebrock standing on a porch.

"He just put his hands up and said, 'I'm the one you are looking for', " Byrne said. "As (Harrison County Prosecutor) Dennis Byrd said, these guys are innocent until proven guilty, but that was certainly an interesting comment to make."

Three days later, Cockerell turned himself in but not after allegedly stealing a truck from a home off Valley City-Mauckport Road and leaving it in the west end of Louisville, Kerrick said.

Kerrick said Cockerell has admitted to committing six burglaries; however, he says three others fit the same style as the ones Cockerell and Rosebrock took part in: taking place on Tuesdays and Fridays and usually between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Also, pillowcases were always taken in the crimes, earning the robbers the moniker the "Pillowcase Bandits."

"They were so amped up when they committed the crimes that they couldn't remember how many they had committed, so once we get them back over here, we'll probably take them out to some of the other places to see if we can refresh their memory a little bit," Kerrick said.

Through interviews with the men, Kerrick said, detectives found out the items stolen were swapped for drugs and money while the weapons were sold to gang members in the west end of Louisville.

"We feel sorry for the victims in Indiana and Kentucky for their losses, but these guys are off the streets for a very long time and the personal things that were taken can be replaced," Kerrick said.

A grand jury in Kentucky was expected to return indictments on the two men. A third person — a female of interest, Kerrick said — could also be brought in for questioning at a later date.

"We had a meeting with the Crawford County sheriff and the Indiana State Police a week ago Monday, and I think that kind of steamed up everything and helped us all get our ducks in a row," Kerrick said. "Obviously, we're very happy to get these guys off the streets. They meant business."

Assisting at the scene were officers from the Harrison County Sheriff's Department, Meade County Sheriff's Department, Brandenburg City Police, Milltown Police Chief Ray Saylor, Sellersburg Police Department, the DNR, Indiana State Police and Heth Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Saylor's canine suffered a heat stroke during the search and was taken to the Corydon Animal Hospital, where he was kept overnight.

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