ELKTON — A common phone conversation at the Elkton VFW Saturday night started with “hey, I need bail money” as 17 “Do-Gooder Inmates” raced to meet their pledged bail during United Way of Cecil County’s first annual Jail & Bail fundraiser.
United Way of Cecil County, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering families for success, raised $12,467 dollars through the event as participants paid $100 to become a “Do-Gooder Inmate” with a pledged bail between $500 and $2,000 dollars.
Inmates featured notable figures from around the county, including Jordan Newell of Darkroot Technologies, Aaron Rouselle of Pop’s Culture, John Thompson from Deep Roots, Cecil County Toys for Tots Coordinator Betty Dean and many more.
The event offered food, drinks, a DJ, a 50/50 raffle and a basket raffle of 22 baskets – filling the banquet hall of the Elkton VFW Post 8175.
Melissa Tapp, Cecil County United Way’s executive director, said the money raised by the event will be used to fuel United Way’s mission of helping all Cecil County citizens live to their fullest potential. Tapp and her husband, Toby Tapp, also participated in the fundraiser as inmates.
“The money raised is going to be used for our community events to support our education, financial stability and the wellness and health for the community,” Tapp said. “Our biggest mission is to make sure that everyone in Cecil is able to live to their fullest potential.”
Of the seven inmates to meet their pledged bail, Betty Dean raised the most money, ending the event with a total of $2,490 against her pledged goal of $2,000.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” Dean said.
United Way of Cecil County plans to make the Jail and Bail an annual fundraiser event as Tapp says the event drew support from numerous organizations, members of the community and even the Elkton Police Department.
“I am very thankful for all of the support we have gotten,” said Tapp. “As well as the turnout did, we would love to do this again.”
All of the leftover food and drinks were donated to Deep Roots, a local homeless family outreach organization.
NORTH EAST — A man who was convicted of a ‘peeping Tom’ charge in Cecil County about 15 years ago has allegedly committed that same offense several times in and near his North East-area neighborhood over the past 18 months, according to Cecil County District Court records.
Investigators identified the suspect as 49-year-old Joseph Burrell, who lives in the unit block of Zion Acres Road, court records show.
Charging documents indicate that investigators filed the latest peeping-Tom charges against him after an investigation that started on Feb. 5, one day after a neighbor’s security camera videotaped a man allegedly trespassing on that resident’s property in the unit block of Zion Acres Road while carrying a footstool.
In his latest brush with the law, Burrell is charged with three counts of peeping Tom, which he allegedly committed in and around his Zion Acres neighborhood between August 2021 and earlier this month, according to court records, which further show that investigators also charged Burrell with attempted fourth-degree house burglary and a peeping Tom-related trespassing. Attempted fourth-degree burglary carries a maximum three-year prison sentence if convicted, and peeping Tom is punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
A Maryland State Police trooper who served as lead investigator arrested Burrell on Thursday, court records show. Burrell remained in the Cecil County Detention Center in lieu of $2,500 bond on Tuesday, four days after his bail review hearing, according to court records.
The incident that spurred the sweeping investigation resulting in the charges against Burrell occurred on Feb. 4, when a neighbor’s front-door ring camera doorbell activated and he, in turn, chased a trespassing man with a beard and glasses off of his property, police said. The trespasser — who was carrying a step stool — jumped a chain-link fence as he fled and then headed toward a residence later linked to Burrell, police added.
Then on Feb. 5, after downloading the security video to his cell phone and watching it, that neighbor contacted authorities and filed a complaint because he had identified the man in the footage as Burrell, whom the MSP trooper later interviewed, police reported.
“He (the neighbor) noticed that Burrell had the same step stool sitting in his back yard. During an interview with Burrell, he identified the step stool that (the neighbor) had photographed and admitted it was his step stool,” according to the charging document.
Aware that other peeping Tom and trespassing incidents had been reported in that Zion Acres Road area dating back to 2021, the MSP trooper conducted follow-up investigations, court records show.
On Feb. 11, the investigator went to another residence on that block, where a girl who lives there saw a man with a beard and glasses looking into her bedroom window on Aug. 7, 2021 after she had gotten out of the shower, police said. Cecil County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded that night after the parents of the victim, who was 12 at the time, contacted authorities but they were unable to identify the suspect, police added.
As part of a follow-up investigation in that 18-month-old peeping Tom case, the MSP trooper showed the video that had been gleaned from her neighbor’s security camera about one week earlier and the girl, in turn, identified the man seen in that footage as the same one who had peered into her bedroom window on the night of Aug. 7, 2021, according to court records.
The investigator also went to a nearby residence in the 100 block of Old Zion Road, where a then-19-year-old woman who lived there saw a man with a beard and glasses looking into her bedroom on Dec. 14, 2021, prompting her to contact her mother who, in turn, called police, court records show. The victim believed that the man was trying to get into her home, court records allege. (Old Zion Road is adjacent to the Zion Acres Road community.)
A security camera at that residence had videotaped the suspect, but CCSO deputies and MSP troopers who responded to the call were unable to identify the man seen in that footage, nor were the people living in that house, police reported.
As part of the follow-up investigation in that 14-month-old peeping Tom case, the trooper compared the security footage taken on Dec. 14, 2021 at that home in the 100 block of Old Zion Road with the video taken on Feb. 4 at the residence in the unit block of Zion Acres Road — the one in which the resident there identified the man in the footage as Burrell, court records show.
“I was able to positively identify the suspect as Joseph Henry Burrell in both cases,” the lead investigator reports in his written statement of probable cause in court records.
In addition, as part of another follow-up investigation, the trooper went to a different residence in the unit block of Zion Acres Road, police said. A resident there had contacted authorities earlier this month after seeing a man standing in the wood line behind his home sometime around midnight on Feb. 4 and 1 a.m. on Feb. 5, police added.
“He was unable to make out his face or characteristics but described his clothing identical to the one wore by Burrell in the ring camera footage from Feb. 4, 2023,” according to the charging document.
All of those incidents referenced in the charging document occurred “in the same geographic area” where Burrell lives, police said. When shown the ring-camera video that had been taken on Feb. 4, Burrell remarked that the man seen in that footage “looks exactly like me,” police added.
CONVICTED PEEPING TOM
In the charging document, investigators noted that a criminal history check revealed that Burrell had been charged with peeping Tom and trespassing in the past, but they did not provide details.
Cecil County District Court records indicate that Burrell received a suspended 30-day sentence and was placed on one year of supervised probation on Dec. 5, 2008, after he pleaded guilty to peeping Tom. Burrell committed that peeping Tom offense on July 31, 2008, court records show.
The charging document specifying where Burrell committed his peeping Tom offense, in addition to containing other details about his crime, was unavailable on Tuesday, however.
As for his newest peeping Tom charges, which have been parceled into two criminal cases, Burrell is scheduled for an April 3 district court trial and also an April 10 preliminary inquiry, court records show.