BUCKHANNON – A local man initially charged with destruction of property for shattering the windows of a car being driven by his ex-girlfriend was subsequently arrested on more serious charges of failure to register as a lifetime sex offender Tuesday.
Mark Christopher Heater, 47, of Buckhannon, allegedly used a metal pole to bust the windows of a car his ex-girlfriend had been driving that actually belonged to her daughter, according to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s office.
Investigating officer Senior Trooper P.J. Robinette with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police charged Heater with destruction of property, a misdemeanor, and two counts of failure to change/update sex offender registry, a felony, following an incident that occurred Saturday, Oct. 20.
According to the criminal complaint, at just a few minutes after noon on Oct. 20, Robinette and Cpl. Theron Caynor with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department met with the victim – the owner of the car that Heater allegedly damaged – at the Kesling Mill Community Center in reference to a destruction of property complaint that had been dispatched through the E911 Upshur Communication Center.
The victim informed Robinette that Heater had allegedly used a metal pole to bust the four door windows – in addition to the windshield – of her vehicle, a Toyota Corolla. The victim told the officer that her mother had been and was still currently using the car.
The victim also told Robinette that Heater and her mother had been dating, but her mother had decided to break up with him that day.
According to the file, earlier that day, when the victim’s mother was trying to leave Heater’s residence, he allegedly “grabbed a metal pole and began striking the windows and windshield of the victim’s vehicle.”
The victim’s mother was eventually about to contact the victim from a friend’s house, at which point the victim picked her mother up, the report states.
The victim subsequently traveled to Heater’s residence to ask him where her car was, and he allegedly told her it was located on McDermott Ridge Road. The victim called 911, and Robinette was dispatched to accompany the victim and her mother, Heater’s ex-girlfriend, about .10 of a mile to the victim’s car, according to the file.
While he was conducting the investigation, Robinette noticed the windshield was “severely damaged” and all four door windows had been busted out entirely, the file states.
He then asked the victim’s mother to recount what had transpired between her and Heater, and according to the file, she said she and Heater had been involved in a verbal altercation about her wanting to move out of his residence.
“[The victim’s mother] stated as she began to walk to her car (which belonged to her daughter, according the report), she observed [Heater] grab ‘this bar, like a bed rail looking thing,’” Robinette wrote in the complaint.
The victim’s mother told the officer she feared Heater was going to “come after” her with the pole, so she ran in the opposite direction of where the car was parked, the file states.
Instead, Heater allegedly began striking the windows and windshield of the vehicle belonging to her daughter, according to Robinette’s report. The victim’s mother told the senior trooper she ran to a friend’s house to call her daughter, the victim and owner of the car, but got no answer.
But as the victim’s mother continued to walk away from Heater’s residence, she allegedly saw someone drive her daughter’s car onto the Kesling Mill Road in the direction of McDermott Ridge; however, she couldn’t tell who was at the wheel, according to the complaint.
The victim’s mother was eventually able to contact her daughter via the wireless internet connection at a friend’s house, and her daughter picked her up at that location.
The two then returned to Heater’s residence and the victim stood at the edge of the driveway and inquired as to the whereabouts of her car, according to the complaint. The victim’s mother said Heater or one of his friends – both of whom were sitting on Heater’s porch – reportedly informed the victim that her car could be found on McDermott Ridge.
The victim recounted saying, “That’s my car, Mark! Why would you do that?” according to the complaint. Heater reportedly told the victim he hadn’t been aware it was her car, the file says.
While investigating the destruction of property charge, Robinette and Caynor traveled to Heater’s residence, and when there, Robinette noticed and photographed a red Chevy Silverado parked in Heater’s driveway.
However, when the officer ran the truck’s registration through the Upshur Comm Center, the Comm Center reportedly told Robinette that the registration number was associated with an entirely different make and model of truck – a 1998 Ford F-150 – which was allegedly registered in Heater’s name.
Robinette then asked the Comm Center to run the VIN (vehicle identification number) displayed on the red Chevy truck, and the Comm Center reported that the VIN number was linked to a third, entirely different vehicle – a 1996 Chevrolet Silverado – which was unregistered, according to the complaint.
Later that afternoon, Robinette was able to confirm Heater is a convicted lifetime sex offender following a conviction on three counts of second-degree sexual assault on Dec. 17, 1993, according to the criminal complaint. According to records, when Heater last updated his registry on Dec. 17, 2017, he only had two vehicles registered under his name – a maroon 1998 Ford F-150 and a white 2000 Saturn sedan, the file states.
According to a state Department of Motor Vehicles query, only two vehicles are currently registered under Heater’s name, Robinette’s report alleges; the first is a 1999 Ford F-150, the registration for which had been displayed on the red Chevy Silverado Robinette saw parked in Heater’s driveway.
The second vehicle registered in Heater’s name is a 2002 Ford Ranger that was also parked in Heater’s driveway when the state police went to question him, according to the file.
Robinette then charged Heater with two counts of failure to change sex offender registry, and he was arrested and transported to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Magistrate Mike Coffman set bail at $100,000 — $75,000 surety and $25,000 personal recognizance.
Heater was ordered to have no contact with the victim or her mother.
The penalty for a conviction of failure to change sex offender registry is imprisonment in a state correctional facility for one to five years. A person found guilty of destruction of property is sentenced to up to one year in jail and/or a $500 fine.