LONG BEACH — Since police first raided Tony Merrill’s home and businesses in April, investigators have linked him to a major home burglary in Ocean Park, a group of petty criminals with ties to local moving and storage companies, and a failed attempt to sell a cache of stolen guns to an undercover cop.
The convoluted case has expanded to include at least 10 suspects, and police are still following leads, Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain said. Recently, police found more stolen guns when they served a warrant at one suspect’s parents’ house.
Here’s an update on the status of each known suspect.
Robert ‘Tony’ Merrill
The former owner of Long Beach Mopeds, Long Beach Krazy Kars and Long Beach Go-Karts fled after his parents paid $25,000 to get him out of jail in April. As of July 17, Merrill, 52, was still on the loose.
In addition to drug-related charges from the April raid, Merrill now faces charges of first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm and theft of a motor vehicle, related to the January burglary of an Ocean Park home. Police believe Merrill provided a cutting torch to a group of burglars who stole a car, guns and other valuable items from an Ocean Park home, and then paid for the guns with drugs and cash.
There is a nationwide warrant for his arrest. If Merrill does not turn up, his parents could be stuck with the $250,000 bill for his bail. McClain declined to comment on where Merrill might be, but said local authorities are working with other law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Marshals Service to find him.
Doreen Marie Morris
Merrill’s girlfriend was arrested during the raid on April 4 and charged with several counts of delivery of heroin and one count of possession of meth and/or heroin. Morris, 51, was released from jail in May. She is now awaiting a trial, which is scheduled for October.
Carter Walter Strever
Strever, 48, was supposed to serve as a lookout during the January burglary, but allegedly got fed up and left. He subsequently left town.
Strever was arrested in Clark County in late May, and pleaded guilty in mid-June to second degree assault, a felony strike offense. He is now serving a 17-month sentence at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.
According to McClain, Strever is one of several people who could be called as a witness if Merrill or others involved in the case go to trial.
Kirt Douglas Jones
Investigators believe Jones, 54, was involved in the burglary, and the sale of the stolen guns to Merrill. He was arrested in Long Beach on a $100,000 warrant on July 2. He is charged with first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm and theft of a motor vehicle. He pleaded “not guilty” at his July 7 arraignment, and did not request bail. As of July 17, he remained in Pacific County Jail.
George Reinhold Kopp
A neighbor of the burglary victim, Kopp, 68, allegedly helped with the burglary and later lied about his involvement when the victim confronted him. He was arrested on May 17, and charged with first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm and theft of a motor vehicle. Now out on bail, Kopp has indicated that he may plead guilty. He is also on the witness list.
Richard Lee Quatier
Quatier, 57, was allegedly involved in the burglary and the sale of the stolen guns. He was arrested on May 15 and charged with first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm and theft of a motor vehicle. Quartier bonded out of jail in June. He is awaiting his trial, which is scheduled for September.
Jeffrey Lorin Walton
The former manager of a local storage facility, Walton, 57, allegedly helped the burglars hide the stolen guns in storage units. He also allegedly helped set up the sale of the firearms to an undercover detective.
Walton was arrested in mid-May, and released on bail later in the month. He was charged with first-degree trafficking in stolen property and possession of stolen firearms. He is awaiting his trial, which is scheduled for August.
Bryan Paul Habermann
The owner of the local moving company Super Movers, Habermann, 37, operated his business out of the same storage facility where police later recovered the stolen firearms. He was arrested in May, when he allegedly tried to sell stolen guns to an undercover detective. Police allegedly found a loaded pistol and heroin on him during the arrest.
In June, police allegedly found more stolen guns, some from the same burglary, while serving a warrant on his parents’ home in Long Beach.
Habermann is charged with first-degree trafficking in stolen property, possession of stolen firearms and heroin possession with possession of a deadly weapon. He also faces felony charges in an unrelated third-degree assault of a child domestic violence case.
As of July 17 he remained in the Pacific County Jail. His trial has not been scheduled yet.
Jeffrey Bruce Bean III
Bean, 20, worked for Haberman’s moving company. He allegedly participated in the attempted sale of the stolen guns. He was arrested during the sting. Bean, who faced separate felony charges for stealing checks from a moving company customer, later pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery, two counts of theft, one count of trafficking stolen property, and two counts of possession of a stolen firearm. He is serving two years in the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. He will be required to serve two years of probation after release. He will be called as a witness, McClain said.
A former associate of Merrill’s helped police by providing information about suspects in the burglary and facilitating a sale between burglars and an undercover detective. In most cases, the Chinook Observer does not identify confidential informants for safety reasons. The woman was arrested on drug charges in late April, and then released so she could set up the gun sale. When she did not appear for her arraignment hearing in mid-June, a judge ordered a warrant for her arrest.
“We don’t know where she is,” McClain said. “We’re definitely looking for her.”