The last teen allegedly involved in the theft and destruction of vehicles from Cagle Used Cars in LaFayette was arrested Tuesday morning, June 11.
Nicholas Wayne Snyder was arrested at 9:30 a.m. while at the Walker County Courthouse to appear for a case in state court, according to Walker County sheriff Steve Wilson.
The sheriff’s office notified courtroom personnel that Snyder was to be taken into custody if he appeared.
“During the investigative process there were some admissions (of involvement) made and (those statements) started linking individuals to the crime,” Wilson said.
The sheriff’s detectives division interviewed more than 30 people regarding the Cagle theft.
“We had to make our case first so that it can stand up in court, then we made the arrests,” Wilson said.
“At this point, those four that we have arrested are the only ones that are suspected in the case,” Wilson said. “That could always change, but at this point we have no information linking anyone else to the Cagle case.”
The big break in the investigation occurred Friday June 8, the details of which aren’t being released publicly due to the case still being active, according to Wilson.
A tip in the investigation has uncovered another incident earlier this year “in another jurisdiction involving a couple of vehicles,” according to Lt. Burt Cagle, who is not related to the Cagles of Cagles Used Cars. That investigation may lead to further arrests and charges for teens linked to the thefts in Walker county.
On May 25, at about 2:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., Snyder and Jesse D. Clayton of Chickamauga, along with two juveniles, stole two vehicles from the Cagle dealership at 3428 Foster Mill Drive in LaFayette, according to Wilson.
A 2003 GMC Envoy was found, undamaged and closest to the lot, later that morning. A 1997 Ford truck was found with a seized engine a few miles further away.
“It appears they were doing donuts in the hayfield on East Broomtown Road,” Beth Cagle said.
Within approximately 30 minutes the teens returned to the Cagle dealership and stole four more vehicles, which were then destroyed on Pigeon Mountain, including a 2003 Chevy Silverado, 1993 Jeep Wrangler, a 2003 Saturn Vue and a 2007 Chevy Malibu.
The four muddy and mangled vehicles were found the following day, with a total estimated loss at $25,000 to $30,000, according to Cagle.
Responsibility and restitution
The Cagle family is pleased that arrests have been made, but remain skeptical that the punishment will fit the crime.
“We’re really happy the sheriff has made arrests. It just remains to be seen what (the courts) will do with (the four teens),” Beth Cagle said. “We will have to sit and wait to see what the judge does. I hope he does what is right.”
While the Cagles hope for justice to impose punishment, they plan to file civil lawsuits against the teens and their parents to recoup their losses.
“I don’t understand where the parents were in all of this,” Beth Cagle said. “I didn’t just let my kids run wild like this.”
She worked in juvenile court services from 1967-71.
“I have just seen too many parents who don’t pay attention to their kids,” she said. “I think (the teen’s) parents need an awakening.”
That financial reckoning will be several thousand dollars for the parents and may take years to be recovered.
Owner Randall Cagle and his wife are still in disbelief at the situation. They have moved forward already spending $1,000 in repairs to two of the vehicles, one of which belongs to their daughter Angie.
Chronology of the cases
Snyder is the only of the teens who has been allegedly involved in all four cases in a recent wave of thefts and vandalism. The Walker County Sheriff’s Office is handling three of the cases.
He was allegedly involved in a Feb. 27 burglary from B&B Auto Sales in LaFayette with $1,530 in merchandise stolen. LaFayette Police Department arrested Snyder on June 1 for that incident, along with a 16-year-old juvenile who was also involved in the Cagle theft.
On April 21, two Jeep Wranglers were stolen after a break-in at WC Auto Sales in Rossville. Snyder and one juvenile were identified for the theft during a separate investigation, resulting in their arrest. Deputy Kevin Denny found both vehicles in LaFayette. Both were destroyed while off-roading similar to the Cagle incident. The vehicles were found near Round Pond Road and Lake Howard Road, close to the site that a stolen X-Terra was later recovered.
The two “totaled” vehicles had a combined value of $20,000, according to the business owner.
On May 19, a 2005 Nissan X-Terra was stolen in Rock Spring. The vehicle was found on May 23 and the investigation resulted in the May 29 arrest of Snyder, Austin Tyler Cross and two juveniles, who admitted to taking part in the theft but did not state who drove.
The following week, on May 24, Snyder and one of the two juveniles from the X-Terra theft, along with Jesse D. Clayton and another juvenile, allegedly escalated the severity of their automotive-related crimes by stealing the six vehicles from Cagle Used Cars.
Cross was arrested again on June 7 for entering an auto with intent of committing a felony, during a separate theft that occurred in Rock Spring the same night the X-Terra was stolen.
The next day Jesse Clayton and a juvenile were arrested for the Cagle theft. Another juvenile was arrested on June 11.
No motive has been discovered in the cases and investigators believe the core group of teens stole and destroyed the vehicles just to be mean.