Grand jury indicts several area men

This week, the Cole County grand jury indicted several individuals, sending their cases on to the circuit court division for possible trials.

Among those indicted were:

• A Jefferson City man charged with abusing a 4-year-old boy by throwing him into a freezing shower in February.

Devin Benke, 26, has been charged with felony child abuse.

Police said Benke put the boy in the shower after the child had spilled a bowl of cereal during breakfast.

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• A Jefferson City man charged with exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl for several years at two different houses in Jefferson City.

Charles Pannell, 53, of 807 Clark Ave., is charged with felony sexual misconduct.

Court documents show the girl told investigators the incidents started in 2010 and continued until Feb. 23 of this year.

Investigators were told Pannell sleeps in the home of the girl two to three times a week.

The girl said she had told her father what was happening, but he failed to stop it or restrict Pannell from having access to the girl.

Pannell admitted to committing sex acts while at the girl’s home with her in the same room.

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• A Jefferson City man charged with first-degree statutory rape and first-degree child molestation.

Joe Stevens, 26, of 207 Olive St., also has been charged with second-degree assault.

Court documents show the girl was under the age of 14.

He is accused of punching the girl repeatedly in the head and back, burning her with cigarettes and threatening to kill her.

The abuse started in July 2012 and ended in February of this year.

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• Three Cole County men who were charged in burglaries in connection with an investigation into home break-ins in Cole County and Jefferson City in January and February.

Joseph Green, 17, of 3914 Oakdale Road, has been charged with two counts of second-degree burglary and four counts of forgery.

Brice Walther, 27, of 3216 Wardsville Road, was charged with three counts of second-degree burglary, five counts of forgery and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Andrew Hopkins, 18, of 909 Harding St., was charged with second-degree burglary and forgery.

Green is believed to have broken into neighbors’ homes on Oakdale in January.

A Cole County Sheriff’s Department probable cause statement shows the back door to the home was pried open and several pieces of jewelry, $1,000 in cash and a book of checks were taken.

Green was identified as having done this after several checks were forged at one of the Jefferson City Walmarts.

Authorities were later given several text messages between Green and his cousin, which stated he had broken into a neighbor’s house because the neighbor told him about stolen ATVs, but they only got a check book.

Green said he was a lookout for Walther and Hopkins at the burglaries, two of which were in the county. The other was in the city.

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• A Jefferson City man who was taken into custody earlier this year as part of an on-going heroin distribution investigation.

Elonzo Johnson, 42, 5512 Bagnall Drive, is charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Johnson was identified as a relatively high level heroin dealer by authorities.

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