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SEIZED EVIDENCE: Store owner Doug Fowler displays cartons of cigarettes, a case of beer, Bic lighters and other merchandise seized as evidence from a burglary at the Joseph Little Store. (The Observer/GARY FLETCHER).
SEIZED EVIDENCE: Store owner Doug Fowler displays cartons of cigarettes, a case of beer, Bic lighters and other merchandise seized as evidence from a burglary at the Joseph Little Store. (The Observer/GARY FLETCHER).

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE Two Joseph men were apprehended and a Portland man is being sought by the Wallowa County Sheriffs Office in connection with a burglary in Joseph Sunday night.

Vern Nye, 24, is being sought on charges of first-degree theft, second-degree burglary and first-degree criminal mischief.

Nye is described as a 5-foot 9, 155-pound white male with a shaven head and a small patch of fairly long chin whiskers. He has a scar on his right cheek and a tattoo on his left arm.

Two other suspects were taken into custody at a Joseph residence Thursday. They were interviewed and released on their own recognizance, pending the results of the investigation. Because of the ongoing investigation, their names have not been released, and police did not previously release information about the incident until Thursdays break in the case.

Also seized at the house Thursday was evidence that looked like about one half of the $4,600 of merchandise taken from Our Little Store in Joseph, said owner Doug Fowler.

Fowler also owns another store by the same name in Enterprise. It was burglarized a year ago. Two Enterprise males were prosecuted for that crime, but none of the cash and checks was recovered.

Fowler opened the Joseph store in July. Sometime between 10 p.m. Sunday and 5:30 a.m. Monday, the side door was broken in, all phone lines were cut and a surveillance camera was moved.

Fowler said Thursday he was delighted with the sheriffs quick resolution of the case and the return of the merchandise. That included some 40 of 60 cartons of cigarettes, most of the 150 Bic lighters, one of 15 cases of beer, about one fourth of the missing jerky, $32 of some $500 in small bills and all the rolls of small change. Ten rolls of quarters were not recovered, nor were any of the candy canes, potato chips and other miscellaneous items including a stuffed toy dog. Also not recovered were contributions in a donation can for the Hanson family, which recently lost everything in a fire.

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