TPD bust theft ring

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Updated: 4/15/2013 9:01 am Published: 4/12/2013 9:13 pm

What started as a high speed chase led authorities to the accused masterminds of a theft ring in Cherokee County, investigators say that ring stretched into the Tulsa area.

The booking pictures show 24-year-old Richard and Rachel Ryals bruised after that high speed chase ended in a crash Sunday.

Police say the couple was high at the time, addicted to pills.

“In the last six weeks it really escalated,” said Tahlequah Police Detective Jeff Haney.

He told FOX23’s Dontaye Carter the two, with the help of Johnny Berbee, stole purses from two women at the Wal-Mart in Tahlequah.

One purse had $300 in it. The other had $1,200. Haney says they also stole $300 from the Cherokee County Community building and checks from one of Rachel’s family members who worked there.

“They took everything they could to scrap,” said Haney.

It included more than a thousand pills from the Grace Living Center in Tahlequah.

“Thousands and thousands of pills,” said Haney said. “Everything the elderly could take.”

The detective showed us photos of the broken medicine cart at the nursing home. He says those pills had a street value of $10,000, but they didn’t sell it.

 “I’m surprised we didn’t find them dead in a motel somewhere from overdose,” he said.

The nursing home later sent us this statement:

"We want to compliment the police for their handling of this investigation. We are pleased to learn that police have arrested those they believe are responsible for these thefts"

But the saddest part for officers.

"Both sets have kids, he said. “Young kids. They've lost homes, they've lost children. "

The Department of Human Services is now involved in the case. The couple’s children could be affected because of the arrest and pending charges.

Police are still investigating the crimes. Richard Ryals is being held on $60,000. Rachel is being held on $24,000. Berbee’s bond is set at $5,000.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Unwashed Mass - 4/13/2013 3:16 PM
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At least Tahlequah police have a cheering section.
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