Off-duty detective confronts alleged fire scene looter
A Talent woman is facing charges of theft in a disaster area after an off-duty Ashland detective spotted her allegedly looting a burned-out home in the Almeda fire area.
Suzette Breeze Millican, 44, of the 100 block of North First Street in Talent, entered not guilty pleas Wednesday to charges of first-degree theft in an area affected by a catastrophe, second-degree theft and resisting arrest.
She was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $35,000 bail.
On Nov. 28, off-duty Ashland Police Department Detective Bon Stewart was helping his friend at her burned home on Arnos Street in Talent, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Talent and Phoenix were heavily damaged by the Almeda fire that started on Sept. 8.
Stewart confronted a woman in a truck who was seen taking items from the remnants of the home. Stewart took photos of the truck because a pile of burned items was visible in the back, including a fire pit. The woman left the scene, the affidavit said.
Stewart’s friend identified the fire pit in the photo as one that belonged to her. She had last seen it in her yard, the affidavit said.
A Talent police officer looked at the photos taken by the off-duty detective and recognized the truck as belonging to Millican. The officer also identified Millican based on her face and visible tattoos, the affidavit said.
Two police officers located Millican driving her truck on Main Street in Talent. She pulled over near the Camelot Theater and they approached the vehicle. When an officer grabbed her arm, Millican resisted arrest, including by pulling her arm away and locking her arm through the steering wheel so the officers couldn’t pull her from the truck. When she reached for the keys, the officers thought she might try drive away during the struggle. One officer deployed his Taser, striking her leg, and they were eventually able to get her into custody, the affidavit said.
“Burnt items were located in the back of Millican’s truck and ash covered her boots,” the affidavit said. “Millican was read her Miranda rights while in custody. While on the way to the Jackson County Jail, she explained she did take the fire pit from the home she was at earlier. Millican explained she was collecting items to make art with.”
Millican’s next scheduled court appearance is a pre-trial conference on Jan. 29 in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Millican was previously convicted of resisting arrest in 2011.
In October, she pleaded no contest to charges of resisting arrest and fourth-degree assault after assaulting a man while trying to take an item from his garage in Talent, then trying to bite and kick a Talent police officer who arrived to talk to the victim. She was sentenced to 18 months probation and 10 days in jail with credit for time served, according to court records.
Millican has another pending case charging her with harassment and second-degree criminal trespassing. A Talent man said she pushed him down and spit in his face after they argued about her pouring Epsom salt in his hot tub, according to a probable cause affidavit for that case.
Millicant told police she put salt in the hot tub because she planned to use it, but the man became upset. She said she spit in his face because he came within two inches of her and “it’s my only defense against a man coming at me,” the affidavit said.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.