Police nab alleged thief after Washington County crime spree

WASHINGTON CITY – Police responded to several reports of theft last week which, through the course of an investigation, all linked back to a Washington City man. Police arrested the 38-year-old Wednesday and he is now facing 14 criminal charges, including five felonies, for his alleged crime spree.

John Leslie Murphy Jr., of Washington, Utah, booking photo posted Oct. 21, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s booking, St. George News
John Leslie Murphy Jr., of Washington, Utah, booking photo posted Oct. 21, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s booking, St. George News

During the first reported incident, John Leslie Murphy Jr. had allegedly stolen a camera valued at over $500 along with credit cards from a residence, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Washington City Police Department in support of the arrest. He was then seen entering several stores throughout Washington County to conduct fraudulent transactions.

In another incident, a woman reported her credit cards had been stolen from her vehicle and were being used at several businesses in Washington County. According to the statement, the offender in this case was also identified as Murphy as he was seen in store surveillance footage conducting the fraudulent transactions with the stolen credit cards.

In a third reported theft incident, a man reported that the keys to his Hummer and personal buildings had been stolen.

During a search of Murphy’s residence, the statement said, officers located the stolen keys and camera, along with numerous tools and vehicle straps that were reported stolen following a fourth theft incident.

According to the probable cause statement, Murphy is restricted from having weapons in his possession due to prior felony convictions, however, officers located a handgun in his possession during the search along with drug paraphernalia.

Murphy was also found to have an active $20,000 warrant for his arrest issued by the 5th District Court for burglary, the statement said.

When questioned by police, Murphy admitted to using the stolen credit cards, according to the statement of probable cause, and returning some of the merchandise to the store for gift cards.

Murphy was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.

He was charged with five third-degree felonies for forgery, unlawful acquisition of a finance card and possession of a firearm by a restricted person; two class A misdemeanors for theft and theft by receiving stolen property; and seven class B misdemeanors for theft, knowingly using a false finance card, theft by receiving stolen property, theft by deception and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Judge Jeffrey Wilcox, of the 5th District Court, ordered $30,000 bail for Murphy’s release pending trial.

He was found indigent by the court during his initial court appearance Thursday and will be represented by court-appointed attorney Douglas Terry. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance Monday afternoon.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.



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  • Common Sense October 26, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Maybe they could catch card thieves sooner if the cashiers actually checked peoples ID. When I shop my ID is rarely ever checked. I could be using a stolen card and the cashiers don’t even care. I even say to them “This could be a stolen card…” they usually just shrug their shoulders or laugh at me.

    • Brian October 26, 2015 at 7:36 am

      I never sign my cards. I write “ASK FOR ID” in the signature area, in bold marker. I get asked for ID, and people reference that, once, ~maybe~ twice a year. You’re correct that cashiers never check for ID, and that would definitely make a difference. That would change if stores became responsible for the loss if it was a credit card. If it’s a debit card and the thief has the pin, there’s nothing you can do.

      • Rainbow Dash October 26, 2015 at 11:39 am

        I agree Brian. When i came here 11 years ago, I was surprised that NO ONE asked for ID’s which was common in Nevada. When working, I checked people’s ID when they gave me the card to swipe unless the card had their picture on it. I admit that I almost never asked to verify the ID if the customer swiped the card unless I had reason to believe that they were up to no good (eg. A customer who “forgot” their PIN more then once or the card didn’t work). A good idea would be to simply hand/show your ID to the cashier when you have to give them the card (I show them mine even when they don’t ask for it.). Ive been out of retail a couple of years now and I’ve noticed that more store employees are asking for IDs when they have to swipe the card. This is a good thing, I think.

        • Rainbow Dash October 26, 2015 at 11:44 am

          I also want to add here(though it’s off topic) that I think the fact that Utah, in 2015, still issues paper IDs as “temporary” IDs is STUPID and just asking for trouble.

    • sagemoon October 26, 2015 at 8:15 am

      I always thank cashiers who ask to see my ID when I’m using a card to pay.

    • Rainbow Dash October 26, 2015 at 8:26 am

      I worked in retail here in town for 10 years. The reason that they don’t do it is because most customers balk at the idea of having their Ids checked for some reason. Seriously they get upset. I’ll be honest here, because of that,when it comes down to it, a cashier cares more about having a job (most are barely making ends meet at $9/hour) then they do about checking IDs since they know they could lose their job if that customer thinks the employee is accusing them of something and complains to a manager.

      • ladybugavenger October 26, 2015 at 2:06 pm

        If the retailers would put up signs. ID required for credit card purchase, like they do in Vegas then it would be clear and the cashiers wouldn’t have to be in fear of losing their job for having a customer complaint. I worked for a major retail store here in town and it was never a requirement to ask for id for credit cards. It should be but its not. I think they would rather have a stolen credit card used than lose a sale. The moment I asked for id in this town the cardholder gets offended and would get mad cuz somehow they felt like they were a criminal and complain but if it was posted the cashier would have a right, so to speak, to ask and not care about the complaints cuz they are just doing their job.

        • Rainbow Dash October 26, 2015 at 5:57 pm

          That’s retail for you. It’s also reason #45698846519819191649461 on my “Why I got the Heck out of Retail” list.

  • vantayl50 October 26, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    WARNING!!!! Credit or Debit Cards with “ask for ID” placed in the signature box ARE NOT VALID. The credit card or debit card states clearly, “card not valid unless signed”. A business that is presented a credit/debit card with “ask for ID” in the signature card are required by all credit card issuers to decline the card. I worked for the U. S. Postal Service and was given a strong warning that I was never allowed to accept a card with “ask for ID” in the signature area. I was to return the card to the person and ask for cash, or card that was properly signed. Most retailers in California and other western states, do ask for ID for each credit/debit transaction. Utah must follow their lead in this instance. Most nations outside of the United States that issue VISA or MASTERCARD, have begun to require a PIN to be entered at the point of sale with the new PINID cards that were required to be issued by all issuers by October 1, 2015. Unfortunately, The United States of America issuers are going to allow the continued use of a signature. The unfortunate truth is that your are going to have to keep signing your credit/debit card or else it won’t be valid.

  • fun bag October 26, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    omg you ppl yammer on and on blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. I’M GLAD I DONT HAVE TO SHOW AN ID EVERY FRICKIN TIME. GET A LIFE PPL JEEZ… WHO CARES?

    • Rainbow Dash October 26, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      Who cares? Anyone who has ever had their cards and identity stolen.

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