Instruments returned after burglar bust


On March 4, Scottsville resident Woody Ward received a distressing call from his friend Andy Waldeck. A diminutive thief had apparently crawled through the dog door of Waldeck’s house in Nelson County and stolen a load of stuff—digital cameras, some jewelry and musical instruments—including two basses that belonged to Ward.

“I guess they pretty much filled up whatever vehicle they were driving at the time,” Ward says.

A month later, police arrested two Fluvanna County men—49-year-old Ronald Lee Morris and 47-year-old Mark Wayne Shifflett—after executing a search warrant at 153 Cedar Hill Rd. in Fluvanna County, where they seized hundreds of items—including jewelry, firearms and lawn equipment. Police say the items were stolen as part of a burglary spree that possibly extended from Charlottesville all the way to West Virginia, in what could be 50 robberies in as many as eight counties. If the West Virginia connection is solidified, the case could go federal.

A day or two after the arrest, Waldeck got a call from a Nelson County sheriff’s detective. A number of stolen goods, including some musical instruments, had been found. Ward and Waldeck were hopeful—they had given the detective pictures of the basses. One of them was easily identifiable with a blotted stain on its headstock, “because it sat upside down in a wet basement,” Ward says. “I’ve had that since I was 17.”

Two days later, on April 7, Morris and Shifflett were denied bond and have remained in the Central Virginia Regional Jail, not for burglary but related felony charges of possession of cocaine and unlawfully possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony. Police have said charges are pending related to the actual theft and they are currently returning items as they are identified, including Ward’s basses.

“I got one of them back,” he says, “and I’m letting Andy do the work that I asked him to do on the other one.”

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