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Brice A. Walter

Charge: burglary

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DECATUR — After 21-year-old parolee Brice A. Walter stole a cellphone from an east side home during a burglary, he was connected to that phone after he called his parole office.

After an investigation focusing on phone records, Walter was arrested Wednesday in connection with that burglary while in jail awaiting trial for burglarizing seven vehicles on Jan. 5.

Walter pleaded guilty to one count of burglary in the vehicle burglary case on Thursday and was sentenced to four years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He is being held in the Macon County Jail without bond, pending his arraignment in the residential burglary.

On Jan. 3, a resident of the 2300 block of East Division Street reported that his cellphone was among items missing when someone broke into his home.

Decatur police detectives retrieved phone records from the victim’s company, which showed that calls were made from the victim’s phone to a woman shortly after the burglary occurred. That woman was identified as Walter’s cousin.

The records also showed a series of text messages sent from 11:54 p.m. Jan. 3 through 2:12 p.m. the following day to a female who was reportedly “in the early stages of a relationship” with Walter, according to a police affidavit.

At about 12:07 p.m. Jan. 4, several calls were made from the stolen phone to an Illinois Department of Corrections phone number, according to phone records. Parolees are supposed to use this number to check in. A parole officer told a police detective that Walter successfully checked in at 12:12 p.m. from the number of the stolen phone.

When detective Jeremy Appenzeller called the stolen phone on Jan. 18, it was answered by a man who later relinquished the phone to the officer. The man told Appenzeller that a female friend sold him the phone for $20. That friend turned out to be Walter’s female cousin. She sold the phone shortly after visiting Walter in the jail on Jan. 7, according to an affidavit by Appenzeller.

Walter was arrested at 4:45 a.m. Jan. 5 after a resident on Rock Drive, on the city’s southwest edge, reported seeing two males rummaging through a parked vehicle.

After police officers tracked Walter through the snow by his footprints, he fled from them on foot and was captured. In his backpack, police found stolen goods and burglary tools, including a stun gun.

Walter had been released from prison Aug. 15 after serving eight months of a four-year sentence for residential burglary.