WINCHESTER — Make no bones about it, identifying a suspect quickly in the theft of a human skull was a no-brainer.
“The skull is actual human remains and is priceless,” Winchester Detective Tyler J. Kalkbrenner wrote in a criminal complaint. “The business owner stated his stepson is the only suspect and has been wanting the skull for two years.”
The skull, which was used as a dental aid, was stolen on April 30 in a smash-and-grab burglary from Davis Family Dental at 2270 Valor Drive. Wesley Steven Ragen, the stepson of Dr. Jeffrey Davis, was charged with entering a structure to commit assault and battery and grand larceny. On Tuesday, Ragens, 37, of the 3600 block of Valley Pike (U.S. 11) in Frederick County, was among the people indicted by a Winchester grand jury.
Surveillance video at the dental office shows the burglary was committed by a man who threw a brick through the glass entry door at the dentist office. Davis told police he had been recently assaulted by Ragens, who was stopped by deputies from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office about three hours after the burglary.
The traffic stop occurred at the Echo Village Budget Motel at 3632 Valley Pike (U.S. 11). Because Davis didn’t immediately realize the skull was stolen, Kalkbrenner said Ragens wasn’t arrested during the stop.
However, Kalkbrenner wrote that police body camera footage showed Ragens in possession of a skull during the encounter. Ragens also fit the description of the burglar in the surveillance video and he was identified with “99-percent certainty” by Davis.
The motive for the theft remains a head scratcher. Davis didn’t return calls about why someone would want to steal a skull. However, a replica of a human skull used for a dental aid “with exceptional quality and anatomical detail” was valued at $1,276 online on a medical supplies website on Wednesday.
The skull was being held Wednesday in the Sheriff’s Office evidence room and will be turned over to Winchester police, according to Sheriff Lenny Millholland. Millholland, a police officer since 1977, said there have been cases of body parts being stolen from human remains at crime scenes to make it harder to identify victims. However, he had never heard of a skull being stolen.
“It’s a new one,” he said.