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Police investigate trespassing at vacant Jefferson City properties


Police have received at least two reports of someone trespassing on vacant yet prominent properties in Jefferson City in the past week.

One was Wednesday at the old Buescher Memorial Home on East Capitol Avenue, and another last Monday at the old Truman Hotel building. According to court records, Richard Zachary McKinney was allegedly trying to take copper wire from the old Truman Hotel building. He was arrested.

Two trespassing incidents at vacant Jefferson City properties
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According to Jefferson City police call records, there have been about 50 trespassing calls to the East Capitol Avenue area since 2018, which is as far back as the online records show.

Several East Capitol Avenue properties have sat vacant for many years. Jefferson City is trying to obtain those properties and fix them up. The city lawyer, Ryan Moehlman, told ABC 17 News on Monday that the city is in eminent domain lawsuits to acquire the properties.

Because of how long the property had sat vacant, Lt. David Williams with the Jefferson City Police Department said officers had to proceed with caution and the help of code enforcement before entering the old Buescher building to investigate.

"It was a complicated matter because that's one of the buildings that was involved in the process with the city," Williams said. "And so the ownership is, it is the city's ownership, but also there's still a private citizen involved in it."

Williams said the situation at the Buescher building didn't involve squatters. However, some say they're seeing it happen more often in Jefferson City

Williams said Jefferson City Police do not deem anything a "squatting" situation unless the person has been there for an extended time. However, officers are trained to help anyone they come across who may be experiencing homelessness.

"We are trying to help giving the resources, making them aware, telling them where to go, how to receive assistance," Williams said.

"It used to be in the background, but now you see more and more of these people searching for housing and jobs and help. I think you see it day to day in Jeff City more often," said Mariah Luebbering, cochair for Jefferson City Room at the Inn.

Room at the Inn is one of the programs offering people a place to sleep on cold nights. Rising costs of living and lingering effects from the pandemic and 2019 tornado are some of the reasons Luebbering said Jefferson City residents are experiencing homelessness.

"Everybody knows that COVID hit hard and some people lose their place of refuge, but also the price of living keeps increasing and also actually was hit by a tornado that took out a lot of our lower-class housing and middle-class housing," Luebbering said.

Jefferson City Room at the Inn will start accepting overnight guests for the winter this Friday at it's new location on Monroe Street. To help with the ever-increasing need in the community, Luebbering said Room at the Inn expanded from 15 to 20 beds this year.

"We are hoping that will be enough and that we won't have to worry about turning anyone away," Luebbering said.

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson City

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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