GreeneStreets. Feature photo of a back country road in Greene County, Indiana. Courtesy of Nick Schneider.

Winter burglar, tracked by deputy through shoe prints in snow, sentenced to 10 years

James Fuchie

James Fuchie

Last winter, a burglar on foot in eastern Greene County was arrested after a deputy tracked his shoe prints in snow. On Tuesday, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years.

James Fredrick Fuchie, 38, was arrested on February 5 and booked into the Greene County Jail where his bond was set at $21,000 surety with ten percent allowed. He did not post bond.

When he first appeared in Greene Circuit Court for an initial hearing, he was charged with:

  • Burglary of a dwelling, a Level 4 felony
  • Theft of a firearm, a Level 6 felony
  • Two counts of unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, both Class B misdemeanors
  • False informing, a Class B misdemeanor

On the day of Fuchie’s arrest, Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy David Elmore was dispatched to a home on Legion Road in the Solsberry area. Dispatch had received a call from a resident who said someone had broken into her house and she had video of the suspect. She didn’t know the suspect but she knew someone who might be able to identify him.

Elmore met with two residents of the home as well as three other individuals from another family who lived in a separate home nearby – and they were able to identify the suspect as James Fuchie who was a relative of one of them. Fuchie allegedly had also attempted to burglarize their home.

Deputy Elmore reported seeing signs of a burglary – items thrown around, drawers open and gone through. Items reported missing included a black lockbox, cash and coins, diamond jewelry, playing cards, knives, miscellaneous items, a muzzleloader in a black case, and a black leather jacket.

Elmore watched the video surveillance footage which showed the suspect inside the home and outside. He said he saw the suspect walk out the back door of the home carrying a black gun case and a black lockbox, while wearing a black leather jacket.

Then the deputy went outside to where the suspect had been standing in the video and he noticed shoe prints in the snow with a unique diamond shape pattern in the middle of the shoe print. The tracks led from one home to another then around to the back of a house and into a tree line. The shoe prints then led to a building on another property. The prints led into the building, but he found no prints indicating the person had left the building.

He requested back-up and Deputy Davis Aerne and Deputy Alan Jackson arrived to assist. The officers entered the building and found Fuchie hiding in a loft area. Miranda Rights were read to Fuchie and then he was found with various trinkets, knives, jewelry and other items.

When asked the whereabouts of the black leather jacket, the gun and the lockbox, Fuchie told them they could be found next to a fallen tree not too far from the residence where they were taken.

Many of the items that had been stolen were found along the path of the shoe prints, but not the lockbox, gun or jacket.  The lockbox, gun and jacket were later found next to a fallen tree as described by Fuchie.

In the jail log and court records, no regular home address is listed for Fuchie – just transient. At one point in the probable cause affidavit prepared by Deputy Elmore, it mentions that Fuchie said something about wanting to get inside a truck, and taking a sweater – he was needing to get warm.

This is not Fuchie’s first brush with the law. Records show numerous previous cases have been filed against him in various locations and records also show he currently has five other cases pending against him in Monroe County.

In mid-June, he signed a negotiated plea agreement along with his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ellen Martin, and Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw.

On Tuesday, he was back in court for sentencing with Judge Erik Allen presiding in Greene Circuit Court.

Fuchie changed his plea to guilty and was convicted of burglary of a dwelling, a Level 4 felony. The other counts against him were dismissed.

Fuchie was sentenced to ten years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. He was given credit for 163 days already served.

The court did recommend Fuchie for the DOC’s Purposeful Incarceration Program – if accepted into the program and if he successfully completes the appropriate substance abuse treatment program as determined by DOC, the court would consider a modification of his sentence.