Man who confessed to more than 100 burglaries in Cape area gets 40 years in prison

Friday, August 14, 2009

With the guilty plea of Mark P. Lowery in a Stoddard County courtroom Thursday morning, authorities can close the books on what may be the largest string of burglaries in Cape Girardeau County.

Lowery previously confessed to police he'd committed more than 100 area burglaries over the past three years, but as per an agreement with Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle, he was only charged in connection with two of the burglaries.

Lowery, who was sentenced to 40 years after he pleaded Thursday, was arrested in May in Illinois on charges related to a burglary in Jackson. A surveillance video of his car parked in an otherwise empty lot while he burglarized a nearby house helped identify him.

He was charged with a second burglary after DNA found on a small radio matched his genetic profile. He told police he'd engraved a phony name on the radio to throw off suspicion.

"Once caught, he said he wasn't going to tell anymore unless he could get a guarantee he wouldn't be charged," Swingle said.

Swingle said he made the decision to only charge Lowery with two of the burglaries after realizing Lowery, 46, faced up to 70 years in prison.

In exchange, Lowery agreed to go around in a car with investigators and point out every house he burglarized, as well as assist police in recovering the stolen jewelry, firearms and other costly items he'd taken from area residences.

Authorities do not believe Lowery disclosed all of the places he'd used to dispose of the stolen goods, Swingle said.

"I told his defense attorney that I was seeking 70 years because his cooperation had fizzled with us," Swingle said.

Surprise plea

Lowery's guilty plea Thursday came as a surprise to prosecutors because the case was only scheduled for a routine trial setting, but Amanda Altman, a public defender appointed for Lowery, said her client would be willing to take 40 years in prison.

During the course of the investigation, Lowery refused to give up the name of his accomplice, but police know he didn't act alone because of a walkie-talkie found at a crime scene and because of two sets of footprints appearing at many of the burglarized homes.

Lowery, born to a prominent California family, fell in with a bad crowd at a young age and was in a juvenile detention facility before he was 16, said Sgt. Scott Eakers of the Jackson Police Department, who worked on the burglary cases.

Lowery spent the majority of his adult life in prison, including San Quentin and Pelican Bay, where he claimed to have joined prison gangs, Eakers said.

Lowery moved to the region in 2004 and worked for a variety of flooring contractors, often getting fired from jobs because, though employers described him as skilled, he had frequent run-ins with authority, Eakers said.

With Lowery's plea, he becomes the recipient of the longest sentence ever issued for burglary in Cape Girardeau County history, second being Benjamin Bird, who confessed in 1981 to committing around 80 burglaries.

Eakers estimated that Lowery stole at least $170,000 worth of items from Cape Girardeau County residences.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

388-3635

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