3 arrested in home invasion burglary

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A Bee Branch man reported last week that he had been held at knife point and robbed at his home.

The man called the Van Buren County sheriff’s office on March 17. He told the sheriff’s office that around 7:30 p.m., three men entered his house by kicking in his front door. One of the men assaulted him and then held a knife to his neck while the other two men took two televisions, stereo speakers and stereo equipment, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. The suspects, known by the victim, then left the residence.

Deputies sought and received warrants for the three men believed to be involved and they were apprehended within days of the incident.

Dustin Rusk, 25, of Bee Branch; Michael Lankford, 23, of Bee Branch; and Rodney Merritt, 29, of Conway were arrested on aggravated robbery charges, a Class Y felony. Bond for Rusk was set at $125,000 bond; Lankford was given a $40,000 bond; and Merritt was given a $100,000 bond. As of Monday afternoon, the three were being held in the Van Buren County Detention Center.

In a separate case, the sheriff’s office has recovered a stolen vehicle. On March 8, 2014, deputies received a report of a stolen vehicle from the Bee Branch area.

The owner had taken the car to loan to a friend but when the owner returned, the vehicle was gone.

Investigators quickly learned that the same vehicle was identified by Clinton police officers who had checked the welfare of the driver during the most recent round of bad road conditions. Sheriff’s investigators then worked with the Clinton patrolman who identified the driver that was the initial suspect. The case will be turned over to the Van Buren County prosecutor for felony theft charges, according to the sheriff’s office.

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