Vandals break into Johnson County Courthouse over holiday weekend

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

Johnson County Clerk Sallee Holbrook thought it would just be a normal Monday coming back to work after a long holiday weekend.

“We came in we thought everything was fine after we came in we found out the PVA had been robbed or had been broken into,” said Holbrook.

Police say whoever broke into the Property Valuation Administrator's office was able to get inside the courthouse because an outside door was left unlocked. Once inside, police said the suspect sawed off the doorknob to the office and drilled through the lock.

“The office was ransacked,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Pelphrey from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Pelphrey said that PVA Michael “Dip” Stafford’s desk and a clerk’s had been gone through.

Pelphrey said at least one person got away with an undisclosed amount of money and theirs was not the only office targeted.

“One of the deputies started to make sure that nothing was taken from our office or that we had been bothered,” said Holbrook.
“They discovered on the back of the courthouse that a lock had been sawed off of the back of our building.”

Because of the way the building is set up, the public cannot gain access to the clerk's office from inside the courthouse. The suspect or suspects had to get through a different outside door.

The clerk’s office is located on the first floor and the only way to get in is through the door in the back where the knob was sawn off or through the glass doors in the front. A general access court door had to have been left unlocked for the suspect to get into the PVA office.

“There was no sign of forced entry,” said Pelphrey, referring to the attempt to get into the PVA office from the outside.

Force entry was attempted for the County Clerk’s office, but a deadbolt prevented that from happening. Even if the suspect or suspects had gained entry from that point they would not have been able to get into the rest of the courthouse through that entrance.

The county clerk said the thief or thieves left the doorknob in front of the door after they sawed it off. She said she is just thankful they were able to replace the doorknob on the same day they found out it was missing.

“We had a latch that prevented them from getting into the building, they didn't get anything out of our office,” said Holbrook.

The county clerk said even though nothing was taken from her office, it still bothers her.

“I think it is a shame that someone would vandalize our courthouse,” said Holbrook.

Holbrook said she believes they are going to look into getting tighter security at the courthouse after the incident.

Police said that they have no suspects or leads in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Paintsville City Police at 606-789-2603, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at 606-789-3411 or Kentucky State Police at 606-433-7711.

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