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Authorities recover stolen guns

By Staff | Jan 13, 2010

James Skylar Barnhart

While the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department has now recovered approximately 28 old pocket knives and 26 stolen firearms, 49 firearms remain missing.

James Skylar Barnhart, 19, of 149 Elm Street, New Martinsville, has been charged with receiving or transferring stolen goods. His bond was set at $30,000 surety. On Tuesday morning he was not listed as an inmate at the Northern Regional Jail. A condition of bond is that he have no contact with the victim(s) in the case.

Cpl. Roger Spragg said that sometime between Dec. 30-Jan. 1 there were 75 guns and a collection of old pocket knives stolen from an unidentified residence in Wetzel County. The value of the guns is $38-40,000.

After seeing media reports of the thefts, Ronald Hartline, Randy Barnhart, and Jesse Williamson of Sistersville reported on Jan. 8 that they had purchased guns from Barnhart in New Martinsville from his home and the old Newman’s garage, located at the corner of Linden Avenue and Locust Street. They were being sold at well below market value.

After executing search warrants at both locations, deputies found the pocket knives in Barnhart’s bedroom and seven rifles hidden in the rafters of the garage’s attic. They also recovered some guns in Ohio. In addition to the knives and guns, deputies recovered $422 cash from Barnhart.

Authorities in Wetzel County recovered several stolen guns after a group of Sistersville residents saw media reports and became suspicious about guns they had purchased.

Jason Beisel, part owner of the garage, provided a written statement that he had seen Barnhart with guns during the past week and he had them at the house and at the garage. In addition, Beisel knew Barnhart was selling guns and traded a car stereo with Barnhart on Jan. 7. Spragg said he was fairly certain that transaction was in exchange for a firearm. Beisel has not been charged in connection with the incident.

The WCSD is asking anyone who has purchased firearms or knives from Barnhart to call the department at 304-455-2430. “We are still getting leads each day,” said Spragg. “So far people who have returned guns have not been charged.”

Spragg and Chief Deputy Rob Haught are continuing the investigation