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Man accused of prank calls charged in auto burglary

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

SOMERVILLE — A man accused two months ago of prank-calling police on the hunt for a killer now faces charges of breaking into a vehicle in a church parking lot during services.

Morgan County sheriff's investigators said the help of the Forest Hills Church congregation led to the arrest of John David Vansteenis, 22, of 342 Bluff City Road, Somerville.

On March 18, a member of the church on Bluff City Road reported about $2,400 in cash, jewelry and other items taken from his pickup.

Investigators retrieved photographs of the suspect and his vehicle from the church's surveillance system, said Investigator Terry Kelly.

Vansteenis was booked into Morgan County Jail on Thursday on one count of breaking and entering a vehicle.

The jail released Vansteenis later that day on $750 bond, but Kelly said investigators are looking into a possible connection to similar crimes in the same area.

Kelly thanked church members for their help with identifying Vansteenis.

In February, Vansteenis allegedly called Fort Payne police claiming to be the killer of a 70-year-old Marshall County woman.

Fort Payne police and U.S. Marshals tracked the call to Morgan County.

After his capture, Vansteenis admitted to making the phone call but denied being the killer or ever being in Fort Payne, said Fort Payne Police Chief David Walker.

Police charged Vansteenis with making a terrorist threat, a Class C felony.

"It was stupid. It was a prank call," Vansteenis said at the time.

Police, who discovered the beaten body of Shirley Sumrall in the trunk of her car in the parking lot of DeKalb Regional Medical Center on Feb. 5, took the call, which indicated there would be another killing, seriously, Walker said.

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