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Two arrested in MR mine burglary

TOWN OF MAIDEN ROCK – Two men are facing felony burglary charges after being caught coming out of the Maiden Rock sand mine with a truck loaded with copper wire. Police apprehended the men when their truck got stuck on a rocky snow bank in front of the mine gate.

Rorylee Nolan McConnell, 36, Taylor, posted a $5,000 signature bond on felony burglary – building or dwelling (as party to a crime) and felony possession of methamphetamine charges Dec. 17. If convicted, he faces up to 12.5 years in prison and/or $25,000 in fines.

Quentin J. Eichman, 46, Galesville, posted a $5,000 signature bond Dec. 17 on a felony burglary – building or dwelling (as party to a crime) charge. If convicted, he faces up to 12.5 years in prison and/or up to $25,000 in fines.

According to the complaint: At 3:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, officers responded to the underground sand mine located on County Road S just outside of Maiden Rock for a burglary in progress. When police arrived, they found tire tracks going through the snow into the mine, but not coming out.

According to reports, breakins had been occurring at the mine recently. Someone had been cutting the gate padlock and entering the underground mine to cut out copper wire. A mine maintenance worker had put a new lock on the gate Dec. 15 and a village employee had piled snow and large rocks in front of the gate to deter trespassers. But at about 2:30 a.m. Dec. 16, a mine maintenance worker saw fresh tire tracks going over the snow bank and rocks, along with the missing padlock cut from the gate.

Deputies waited for the vehicle to emerge from the mine, which it did at 5:40 a.m. A truck appeared and when it tried to drive over the snow and rock bank, it became stuck. Officers watched as two flashlights moved around the truck. Every time a vehicle would approach on County Road S, the truck would shut its headlights off. It appeared the occupants were trying to winch the truck over the snow bank and rock pile by hooking a rope to a tree. This went on for about 10 minutes, and every once in a while, officers would see the truck’s brake lights. Deputies soon decided to approach the truck on foot, keeping their flashlights off.

As officers approached, they could see a silhouette of a person behind the truck. When deputies announced their presence, the man behind the truck froze. Once the lights were on, officers could see a second man sitting in the driver's seat. This man, later identified as Eichman, refused to get down on the ground and was eventually tased. The man who had been behind the truck was identified as McConnell.

Once police had both men in custody, they searched near the mine but found no one else. In the back of the truck, police found numerous pieces of coated copper wire that had been cut into pieces so it could be hauled, along with a variety of tools commonly used for cutting locks and wire.

When deputies interviewed the suspects, McConnell claimed to have no clue where he was or what was going on. He said he’d been sleeping in the truck until it got stuck. When police searched him, they found gem baggies containing about 8 grams of methamphetamine.

Quentin said he’d been a contractor for Carrie Services and had worked at the sand mine. He said he wanted to show McConnell the mine, so they’d driven up from Galesville that night. He cut the lock to the gate and they went into the mine, where he tried to show McConnell where some of the grizzly sites were that he’d worked on; however, he got lost and said many of the roads inside the mine are flooded. He told police he found copper wire and McConnell helped him cut it up and put it in the truck.

Quentin said he’d taken wire before when he worked in the mine, but hadn’t taken any since. He admitted to being out of work and thought he could take the wire since the mine is shut down.

McConnell is slated to appear in Pierce County Circuit Court for a preliminary hearing at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 18. Eichman has a preliminary hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 18.

Quentin Eichman

Rorylee McConnell

January 4, 2022