Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

March 6, 2013

Local trio arrested for stealing coins from fountain; honeybuns

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Three area residents accused of stealing cafeteria honey buns and fountain coins from ETMC-Jacksonville last month were arrested on warrants this week.

Daniel Anthony Walding, Jr., 21, of Rusk, was apprehended while walking down the street Monday. Father and daughter Joseph Patrick Wooddell, 44, of Jacksonville and Amanda Wooddell – age and address unavailable – were taken into custody Tuesday.

The Wooddells were nabbed by authorities after driving directly to the police station to offer Walding a ride home as he was being released from custody.

The three have yet to provide an explanation for why they committed the crime or – in the case of the father and daughter – why they didn't realize they would be arrested if they showed their faces at police headquarters.

"This is kind of a new one for me," said Jacksonville Police Officer Nathan Winship, the responding officer to the crime scene.  

A spokesperson for ETMC-Jacksonville declined to immediately comment, other than to say the crime was immediately reported to police.

Jacksonville police were originally called to the hospital on Feb. 22, where they viewed hospital video of the three apparently leaning over into the coin fountain inside the cafeteria area of the hospital about 6:14 p.m. that day.

"They were right there, removing coin money change from the fountain," Officer Winship explained. "The hospital uses that money for the Pink Ladies there. When they were reaching for the money, the video showed that Joseph Wooddell nearly fell in."

The formidable East Texas Medical Center Auxiliary “Pink Ladies” volunteer organization undertakes worthwhile tasks such as providing area hospices and medical facilities with caps they knitted for the winter.

After retrieving the cash, the trio turned their attentions to the hospital cafeteria, which was closed and had a security gate drawn shut.

Despite the gate obstruction, the honey bun pastries were located an arm's reach from the doorway, according to reports.

"They reached through the fence gate and retrieved the honey buns and held onto them as they walked out of the building," the officer said. "As they walked out they separated the monies among themselves. Right now, we're uncertain of the exact amount."

Based on the videotape of their actions, authorities obtained arrest warrants for all three. The offense is Class C theft.

While he was strolling down Sunset Street Monday, Walding was spotted and picked up by police. A judge released him Tuesday in exchange for his signing a plea pledging community service.

As mentioned earlier, the Wooddells were apprehended at the police station, where they had come to offer Walding a ride home. (Walding and Amanda Wooddell are believed to be romantically involved.)

It apparently didn't occur to Joseph Wooddell that he and his daughter also might be wanted by authorities. Police believe Amanda Wooddell might have been slightly aware.

"She had her suspicions, but she went to the police station anyway," Officer Winship said Tuesday afternoon. "She and her father haven't seen the judge yet, and won't until (Wednesday) morning."