After helping install a new furnace in a Cody woman’s home last year, a local man is alleged to have secretly returned to take dozens of the guns in her basement.
The Park County Sheriff’s Office arrested Robert “Bobby” Jackson, 45, on a felony charge of aggravated burglary last week. Jackson is alleged to have stolen nearly three dozen guns from a residence on Diamond Basin Road, southwest of Cody.
He remained in jail on Wednesday, with bail set at $50,000.
Although investigators believe the guns were stolen sometime in December, the case wasn’t reported to law enforcement until April 1.
In her initial call to the sheriff’s office, the woman said she believed more than 100 firearms might be missing, department logs say, but she later put together a list indicating that 34 weapons had been taken from her late husband’s collection.
The woman mentioned to Sgt. Chad McKinney that she’d shown the collection of firearms to a pair of workers from Big Horn Heating and Air Conditioning in December, when they installed a new furnace; one of those workers was Jackson.
The woman said “several” other people knew about the gun collection, McKinney wrote in a report, but the investigation quickly honed in on Jackson: Just two days after the woman reported the guns as stolen, Jackson reportedly showed up at her home and said his brother “Bryan” had taken the firearms. According to the woman’s recollection, Jackson explained that “Bryan” was in Denver, with his dying 4-year-old daughter.
Jackson reportedly told the woman he would go to Denver and try buying back some of the firearms his brother had stolen; several days later, he allegedly returned seven of them.
However, McKinney was able to poke several holes in Jackson’s story — for instance, he determined that Jackson doesn’t have a brother.
When McKinney first questioned Jackson, the suspect told the deputy that he had purchased 16 to 18 firearms from the woman and then sold them at Cody Pawn; he also provided a supposed bill of sale. However, McKinney later learned that Jackson had actually sold 28 firearms to Cody Pawn — telling store personnel that he and a “brother” had received them as an inheritance. Pawn records reportedly show Jackson sold the first gun on the same day that the woman had the new furnace installed. McKinney also concluded that Jackson had forged the woman’s signature on the “bill of sale” by copying it from a proposal related to the furnace.
McKinney confronted Jackson on the evening of April 11 and, after more denials, he allegedly admitted to entering the woman’s house while she was gone and taking the guns.
Jackson reportedly told the deputy that he was having a hard time, saying he and his wife weren’t making enough money.
Jackson is quoted in court documents as saying that, “I did not think she [the homeowner] would ever notice the guns were gone because of the [cluttered] house.” He said the woman didn’t care about the firearms, McKinney recounted in his statement.
“I thanked [Jackson] for his cooperation and telling me the truth,” McKinney wrote. “Jackson was then arrested and booked into the Park County Detention Center ...”
Lance Mathess, a spokesman for the Park County Sheriff's Office, said on Wednesday that five of the 28 firearms sold to Cody Pawn had been recovered.
A preliminary hearing in the case — to determine whether there’s enough evidence for the case to proceed from circuit court toward a trial in district court — was tentatively set for this (Thursday) afternoon.
Editor's note: This version corrects how many guns Jackson reportedly returned.