LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - He was wanted in three states for stealing thousands of dollars from his customers. It took police more than a year to track him down. But now, contractor Edward Armstrong is back on the streets after a lack of communication within the Jefferson County court system led to his release.
Armstrong's alleged victims want to know why prosecutors didn't do more to keep him in jail after it took so long to catch him. And now, the Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney's office is scrambling to get him back.
Armstrong was wanted for more than a year on felony theft charges that stretched from northern Ohio to southern Indiana. But after police finally tracked him down, the court system let him go.
That is frustrating to Armstrong's alleged victims like Ralph Coke. "Oh it is, my Lord," Coke said.
The Troubleshooter first interviewed Coke in December 2010. Armstrong disappeared after the Armstrong allegedly stole $12,600 from the Brooks man for a pole barn Armstrong never built. An investigation by the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter department discovered detectives in Bullitt County were not the only ones searching for Armstrong.
He was wanted for allegedly taking more than $15,000 from a family in Harrison County and $16,000 from a man in Jefferson County for work he never did. Arrest warrants were issued in all three cases, but the Indiana man eluded capture until January 2012.
That's when Ohio authorities arrested him on felony theft charges. Police said the same issues had happened there. After his arraignment in Putnam County, OH, Armstrong was extradited to Kentuckiana to face justice.
"I was glad," Coke said.
But Coke isn't so happy anymore. After being booked into the Bullitt County jail, Armstrong was extradited to Jefferson County. But earlier this month, despite a $50,000 bond and a court memo that listed him as a "flight risk," assistant county attorney Becky Schroering agreed to dismiss Armstrong's bond and release him on his own recognizance.
Bill Pattison, spokesperson for the Jefferson County Attorney's office, said Schroering released Armstrong because she thought he would be held in Harrison County while he awaited trial on the theft charge there. But the judge in Harrison County lowered Armstrong's bond from $25,000 to $4,000. Two weeks ago, Armstrong's girlfriend posted the money, and he walked out the front door.
"I don't know where he's at now," Coke said.
In fact, no one does for sure.
Neighbors at Armstrong's last known address said he moved out months ago. On Monday, the Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney's office asked the judge to issue an arrest warrant to bring Armstrong in, noting he is now facing felony theft charges in six counties in three states, including Butler, Gibson and Vandenberg Counties in Indiana.
Judge Barry Willett denied the motion, opting to allow Armstrong the opportunity to show up on his own for his arraignment in Jefferson County on April 2.
Ralph Coke isn't counting on it. "If he's got any sense he will find a hole and pull it in over him," Coke said.
The Harrison County Attorney's office and the Jefferson County Attorney's office declined to speak on camera about this case. But a spokesperson for Harrison County said the prosecutor opposed the motion to reduce bond.
Detectives who worked to catch Armstrong the first time around also declined to speak on camera but said they are frustrated that Armstrong was released. They don't think he's going to show back up on his own.
To friend the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter on Facebook click here. To follow the Troubleshooter on Twitter click here.
It's been less than 10 months since the world record for a lottery prize. On Saturday night, it could conceivably fall once again.More >>
It's all about the odds, and one single ticket in Florida has beaten them all by matching the numbers drawn for the highest Powerball jackpot in history at an estimated $590.5 million, lottery officials disclosed Sunday.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:45 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:45:26 GMT
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A man accused of beating and raping a woman outside an Old Louisville apartment building went before a judge on Saturday. William Swartwood, 28, was arrested early Friday morningMore >>
William Swartwood, 28, was arrested early Friday morning and charged with rape and sodomy.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:27 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:27:08 GMT
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A standoff lasting nearly 12 hours came to an end early Saturday morning in the Shively neighborhood. The man police were after, Jerry Ross, is dead. Police have not determinedMore >>
The man police were after, Jerry Ross, is dead.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 10:21 PM EDT2013-05-18 02:21:45 GMT
NEW ALBANY, IN – New Albany police said Friday that a mother found dead along with her two young children in a creek in Binford Park in March drowned her two young children and then herself. New AlbanyMore >>
Investigators said Jaime Clutter, 35, suffered from mental illness -- possibly psychosis and postpartum depression -- when she walked her children to Binford Park March 13 and drowned them. More >>