Working together, the St. Helens Police Department and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office identified a suspect in the string of burglaries that has plagued the south county region for several months. On Aug. 1, investigators arrested Alexander Jason Ross, 22, a transient who has frequented the St. Helens area, on two charges of burglary in the first degree and one count of burglary in the second degree.
The lead came after a burglary reported in the 34000 block of Smith Road. Investigators met with Ross and used information collected from that burglary to get Ross’ confession to the crime. At the time, investigators were looking for a backpack that they knew he had had in his possession when the Smith Road burglary occurred.
Over the weekend, a citizen found a backpack in the bushes in the Chimes Crest area of Columbia City. The home was empty, and the citizen gave the backpack to the police. Investigators discovered items from a burglary that occurred on Tarbell Road – including a computer and jewelry; they interviewed Ross in the Columbia County Jail and the man confessed to the Tarbell Road burglary and another incident – a burglary on Sykes Road that was committed as an elderly woman slept in her bed.
St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss said that Ross had booted in the elderly woman’s front door and entered her home. “An elderly lady heard crashing inside her home but she was too scared to look,” he said. “Eventually, she was able to fall asleep again and the next morning she found her belongings missing and a flashlight on the floor.”
Even though these burglaries that Ross has confessed to were likely terrifying, Moss said that no one has been injured.
When he was arrested on Aug. 1, Ross was considered a prime person of interest in the burglary of Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison’s home, as well as other burglaries. He was arrested and charged last month with possession of stolen property.
“We’ve known about Alex for a while,” Moss said. “We could tie him to the burglaries, but we couldn’t say he was the only one at that time.”
Ross is in custody at the Columbia County Jail on $135,000 bail. He is charged with Burglary 1 (two counts) and one count of Burglary 2.
Moss notes that additional charges are pending and the investigation into Ross’ involvement in the recent burglaries continues. Other suspects have been involved in these crimes, but investigators are encouraged by citizens’ alertness in the affected communities. Immediate calls reporting suspicious behaviors, alarm and surveillance systems and a genuine concern for our neighbors will be key to solving these crimes.
“As Alex Ross is only one part of this ongoing problem, the investigation is still ongoing,” said Moss. “I fully expect that others will be arrested very soon,” he added.
This is a developing story. As information becomes available, other articles will include links to this one and relevant information.