Woman found guilty of using obituaries to target homes for burglaries while owners were at funerals

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WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY – According to a press release from the Westchester County District Attorney’s office, a 30-year-old woman from the Bronx borough was found guilty earlier in October for a series of burglaries she committed in 2017 and 2018 where she targeted homes of those attending funeral services.

In the press release from the DA’s Office, 30-year-old Latonia Stewart was first arrested on May 1st, 2018, by Greenburgh Police after she was observed driving away from a home of a recently deceased person where she was found in possession of stolen jewelry.

When police were taking her into custody, it was also noted that a website featuring an obituary was pulled up on her cellphone. Upon further investigation, “police recovered more stolen items and burglar’s tools in her car and at her Bronx residence” according to the release.

It was later determined that Stewart had perpetrated a series of these sorts of burglaries between December 2017 and May 2018, targeting six homes in Westchester County whose occupants were out of their houses while attending wakes or funeral services, per the DA’s Office release:

“Stewart targeted the homes after searching through obituaries online. Jewelry, watches, silverware and other valuables were stolen. Stewart used a sledge hammer to break windows and glass doors to gain entry into certain homes, and caused further damage to the homes once inside.”

On October 14th, Stewart was found guilty of six counts of second-degree burglary and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Following the conviction, Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah released the following statement:

“It is absolutely appalling that people mourning the loss of a loved one were specifically targeted and taken advantage of in such a cruel and heinous manner.

I commend the great work of my team, the Greenburgh Police Department, and the other law enforcement partners who handled this case, and I hope that this verdict brings some measure of comfort to the victims.”

Stewart is scheduled to be sentenced on November 22nd, where she faces a minimum of 3 1/2 years to a maximum of 15 years in a state prison on each burglary count.

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Tacoma woman pleads guilty to arson after torching five police cruisers in Seattle, going on vandalism spree in city

(Originally published October 11th, 2021)

SEATTLE, WA – According to a press release from the Department of Justice, a 26-year-old woman pleaded guilty to arson in late September for her role during a May 2020 riot in Seattle where she torched five police vehicles.

Back in June of 2020, Margaret Aislinn Channon was arrested for setting five Seattle Police vehicles on fire during a riot that was taking place on May 30th, 2020, during the initial spread of protests and riots inspired by the murder of George Floyd.

At the time of Channon’s June 11th, 2020, arrest, U.S. Attorney Brian Moran noted the video evidence obtained at the time that pointed to Channon’s guilt:

“This defendant was captured by multiple cameras using an accelerant, lit like a blowtorch, to start fires in five vehicles – putting the public at risk and creating the very real possibility of a structure fire amidst the throng of people protesting downtown.”

As we reported here at Law Enforcement Today following Channon’s arrest, authorities were able to identify Channon – despite her being masked – by way of some distinct tattoos on her hands and arms that was captured on video.

Furthermore, when authorities executed a search warrant at Channon’s residence, they uncovered some of the same clothing she was wearing when caught on camera during the May 30th riot.

In Channon’s plea agreement, outside of admitting guilt to setting the five police vehicles on fire, she also admitted to stealing clothing from various stores during the riot, smashing the window of a Verizon store, and destroying a cash register that was inside of a local sandwich shop.

Under the terms of Channon’s plea agreement, outside of any time she will have to serve in prison, she is also responsible for restitution for the damages she caused. The restitution amount will be determined when she is formally sentenced.

With Channon pleading guilty to arson, she is facing anywhere between a 5-year minimum sentence to a 20-year maximum. While both the prosecution and the defense have recommended a 5-year sentence for Channon, the sentencing decision will ultimately be left up to U.S. District Judge John Coughenour.

Channon’s sentencing is scheduled for January 18th of 2022.

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Here’s our previous report from June of 2020 that provides more context to the period in which Channon was arrested and the status of Seattle during that time. 

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DOJ: Woman hit with federal charges after setting five police cars on fire in Washington

(Originally published June 12th, 2020)

SEATTLE, WA – A 25-year-old woman from Tacoma, Washington was arrested on June 11th for allegedly setting fire to numerous police vehicles in Seattle toward the end of May while riots and protesting were at their peak in the state.

Authorities say that Margaret Aislinn Channon was responsible for setting five unmarked police vehicles ablaze last month, and is now currently facing federal charges in relation to the alleged acts of arson.

U.S. Attorney Brian Moran stated the following about the case:

“This defendant was captured by multiple cameras using an accelerant, lit like a blowtorch, to start fires in five vehicles – putting the public at risk and creating the very real possibility of a structure fire amidst the throng of people protesting downtown”

The acts were said to have occurred on May 30th near the area of Pine Street and Sixth Avenue in Seattle.

This area where the alleged arson took place happens to be mere blocks from the Pine & 12th Avenue police precinct that local authorities have recently abandoned and was overtaken by the likes of criminals designating the surrounding blocks as the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.”

It was through the help of photos and videos of the suspect that police were say they were able to identify Channon as the alleged arsonist.

While the suspect was masked during the riotous destruction, police were able to match a facial profile by way of the suspect’s eyebrows and also unique tattoos emblazoned upon her knuckles.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda noted that while there’s nothing wrong with exercising free speech, committing violent acts and destruction of property is nowhere within that realm of protected speech:

“The number one mission of the FBI is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.  The First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to express their opinions and peacefully protest.  What it does not provide is the right to invoke violence under the guise of free speech.”

When authorities executed a search warrant of the home of Channon, they were said to have recovered clothing adorned by the suspect captured in the photos and videos of her alleged acts of arson.

Alongside both local law enforcement and the FBI, the ATF also aided in the investigation. ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Blais commented on the reasoning behind their involvement with the criminal case:

“ATF is the Federal agency primarily responsible for administering and enforcing the criminal and regulatory provisions of the Federal laws pertaining to arson.  Arson is a crime of violence.”

Moran extended accolades to the collaborative efforts of law enforcement to help identify Channon by way of photos and video secured:

“I commend the painstaking work of law enforcement using a variety of images to identify the defendant and locate her so she can be held accountable.”

Channon is formally charged with five federal counts of arson, which a conviction of a single count could result in up to 10 years in a federal prison.

An initial court appearance was scheduled for June 12th reportedly.


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