Former Volunteer Charged With Stealing From Pettis County Museum
A former volunteer at a small Missouri museum has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars' worth of Civil War and World War I artifacts.
A warrant was issued Monday for the arrest of 38-year-old Terry Cockrell, a 2010 Sedalia mayoral candidate who volunteered for eight years at the Pettis County Museum before moving last fall to Coffeyville, Kansas. He's charged with two felony counts of stealing $750 or more. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.
Police say some of the items missing from the museum, including a surgical kit, firearms and a sword, were tracked to a Tennessee collector, who bought them last summer without realizing they were stolen. Museum co-curator Charles Wise says display cases had been rearranged to conceal the thefts, which weren't reported until last month, The Sedalia Democrat reports.
Sedalia police Det. Jill Green said in the probable cause statement that Cockrell falsely told the collector that he received the items as a gift from a neighbor who gave them in return for a favor. Green said Cockrell was tied to the theft by a form he signed that stated he was the true owner of the sword and had obtained it legitimately.
Green said Cockrell initially said he had been given the artifacts by someone who died 20 years ago but later admitted to removing them from display case. The collector is helping to return as many of the items as possible after re-selling some of the antiques to buyers in other states. A revolver and a World War I era flare pistol also were reported stolen but weren't sold to the collector.
The Pettis County Historical Society, which operates the museum, is now considering new measures to prevent future thefts. Wise said that the museum didn't regularly check its inventory in the past and fully trusted its volunteers.