UPDATE 11/28 — Wells has a pre-trial conference scheduled for Feb. 7, 2023.

Original story:

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- The Springfield Police Department has arrested a man facing charges with multiple incidents, including a theft at an event at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds earlier this month.

Online court records say 37-year-old Derek Wells has been charged with:

  • One count of manufacture of a controlled substance
  • One count of delivery of a controlled substance
  • Three counts of first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle
  • Six counts of unlawful possession of a firearm
  • Six counts of stealing
  • Six counts of unlawful use of a weapon

Timeline of incidents:

According to court documents obtained by OzarksFirst, on September 15, an SPD officer was sent to Hong Kong Inn on E. Sunshine for a call of a theft from a vehicle. When the officer arrived, he spoke to the caller. The man told the officer that he parked his car at the restaurant earlier in the day and left it unlocked. Court documents say the man had a Smith & Wesson 9mm in the car. The man returned and found his gun had been stolen.

On October 16, another officer was called to the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in response to a commercial burglary. The officer made contact with the owner of Elite Guns Jewelry and Pawn, who was at the Fairgrounds for an event that weekend.

Court documents say surveillance footage showed an apparent black male in the closed building in the early morning hours on the 16th, and the video showed the man stolen several firearms and boxes of ammo. The officer talked with another man from the gun shop and said eight guns were missing. Court records say two other guns were stolen from a different company.

On October 17, a Springfield police officer was sent to the 66 Auto Auction on W. Sunshine for another commercial burglary call. Court documents say an employee told the officer that someone had cut their chain-link fence and possibly stole items. Later that morning, another employee called SPD after watching surveillance footage and told police four motorcycle/dirt bikes had been stolen.

The investigation:

Court documents say on October 18, two SPD investigators responded to a home on E. Lindberg about the theft at 66 Auto Auction. Employees from the auto shop were at the home and told investigators that the motorcycles were in the garage of the home. Officers approached the home, and the garage began to open. Court records say officers could see three of the stolen motorcycles.

A door inside the garage began to open, and the investigators took position and drew their guns, stating they were with the Springfield Police Department and demanded the man to show them his hands.

One investigator ran to the back of the home and engaged in a foot pursuit with the suspect, identified as Derek Wells. Wells was taken into custody several minutes later after hiding in the backyard of a nearby home.

Court documents say police obtained a search warrant for the home and found stolen guns from vendors at the Fairgrounds. Officers also found 1.5 pounds of marijuana packaged in 23 ziplock baggies as well as several ID’s and credit cards on the floor. Police say at least four of the owners of the cards were victims of either vehicle thefts or burglaries. Police also found four marijuana plants growing in the attic of the home.

During a post-Miranda interview, Wells told police that he ran from officers because he panicked. He also confessed to police about being a convicted felon and failing to report to his assigned parole officer. Court documents say Wells told police that the motorcycles and guns had been brought to the home by his ex-girlfriend’s 16-year-old son during the previous weekend.

Wells provided detailed statements to police about how he became in possession of the motorcycles and guns.

Springfield Police say Wells has been arrested a minimum of 28 times in Springfield or Greene County and has been listed as a suspect in around 48 other crimes since 2002.

Wells will have a bond hearing on October 28 at 9:30 a.m.