Steamboat Springs Police say the 14-year-old boy who was stabbed April 4 during an altercation at Bud Werner Memorial Library has confessed to helping burglarize six downtown businesses May 4.
The boy’s 18- year-old brother, William Clive Ellifritz, also has been arrested and is in custody at Routt County Jail in lieu of $30,000 bail.
Steamboat Springs police say that on May 4, starting shortly before 5 a.m., the brothers broke into Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, Cantina Mexican Restaurant, Steamboat Meat & Seafood Co., Double Z Bar & BBQ, Brooklynn’s Pizzeria and Sage Healing Arts. Some food items may have been taken, along with $200 from Brooklynn’s.
“The two of them made an agreement that they were going to break into a bunch of businesses,” Detective Dave Kleiber said Tuesday.
Police also suspect that the brothers broke into at least one car in Dream Island Mobile Home Park that morning and took a laptop computer. Evidence also was seized in the 14-year-old boy’s room that police think is from one of nine cars broken into May 2 in Hayden.
Kleiber said police initially investigated whether Ellifritz might have been involved because of his criminal history and because he lives near Dream Island. According to an affidavit, Ellifritz has been “arrested, convicted and incarcerated for multiple burglaries, as well as possession of firearms and explosive devices as a juvenile.”
Ellifritz was convicted of burglarizing the Steamboat Springs Police Department’s remote storage unit in November 2008, according to the affidavit. Four handguns were taken during that burglary.
Soon after the downtown burglaries, police went to Ellifritz’s home, where he lives with his brother, mother and stepfather. According to the affidavit, police talked to the stepfather, who told police he heard someone come home at about 6 a.m. and assumed it was Ellifritz. Police then found items taken from a car in Dream Island near a dirt trail leading to Ellifritz’s house. A witness in Dream Island picked Ellifritz out of a photo lineup, according to the affidavit.
On May 11 police served a search warrant at the brothers’ home. Among the items seized, according to the affidavit, were clothing, flashlights and face masks that police think the brothers were wearing in video surveillance footage at two of the businesses. Police also found a bag with the laptop taken from Dream Island. The bag also contained a loaded handgun, which police think Ellifritz had during the robbery. The gun is not related to those taken during the 2008 police storage unit burglary.
With permission from the 14-year-old boy’s mother, police interviewed the boy, who told them he and Ellifritz had broken into the businesses and a car in Dream Island, according to the affidavit. The juvenile also said he did not see Ellifritz with a handgun during the robberies, but Ellifritz had told him that “anyone tries to swing at us I will fire a warning shot,” the affidavit stated.
Ellifritz was arrested in Craig after he was contacted by police because a restaurant reported that he did not pay for a meal. He was transferred to the Routt County Jail on Sunday on suspicion of first-degree burglary, theft, criminal trespassing and possession of burglary tools. He remained in custody and is due in court at 1 p.m. today.
Kleiber said the juvenile was processed Monday and released to his parents.
The same day as the robberies, the 14-year-old appeared in Routt County Court with his mother and showed Judge James Garrecht the scars on his hands he received after 40-year-old Adam Huber stabbed him April 4 at the library. Huber was sentenced during the hearing to 6 months in jail.
Police think three teenage boys were being “loud, obnoxious and inappropriate.” Huber confronted the boys about their behavior calmly, according to witnesses, and it escalated into a fight. Huber said that the 14-year-old was choking him and that he stabbed him to defend himself.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com