Mark Hagen was a 21-year-old resident of Hillside County. He at-Hillside Technical Community College but had not completed his studies. Mark worked at the Hyland Steakhouse as a take-out window employee. He was on probation for speeding to elude police and was known to have a history of break-ins and drug abuse. As a deputy sheriff, I had become acquainted with Mark during a fraud examination earlier that year that resulted in his arrest. When I spoke to Hagen's father, he told me he had bailed him out of trouble on many occasions and he was no longer welcome at home because Mark had assaulted him. Mr. Hagen told me to have the courts throw the book at his own son.
Jerry Settles was a 22-year-old transient and friend of Mark Hagen. In December, he was sleeping on the couch in the apartment that Hagen shared with a housemate, Ginger Taylor. Settles had a small child with an ex-girlfriend, but the child and the ex-girlfriend lived in a town on the coast. Settles had some previous run-ins with the law in a nearby county. He made a difficult living on a cash basis as a tattoo artist and kept the tools of his trade in Mark's apartment.
I never thought to ask Paula Searcy why she chose 3:00 one morning in the first week of September to do some online banking. In any event, she did — and discovered that a fraudulent purchase for $110 was charged against her account to purchase something from a ...