DELAND, Florida — Volusia County Sheriffs investigators have put the brakes on a two-man vandalism spree believed to be responsible for damage to nearly two dozen vehicles in the DeLand area over the past month. The two people arrested this week by investigators — 20-year-old Keith Dekoeyer and 21-year-old Christopher Jackson — said they were drunk during their escapades, acted out of boredom, and for the most part hit vehicles at random. However, their undoing was the targeting of Jackson’s boss two times in a row.
The first incident believed to be linked to the duo occurred on April 20, when a car parked on Lindley Boulevard had its rear passenger window smashed out and the rear passenger side of the car was dented. Deputies noted reddish dust on the dent, leading them to believe the car had been struck by a brick.
Over the next two weeks, another 22 vandalisms followed involving slashed tires, windows smashed out with bricks or concrete and vehicles defaced with green spray paint. In addition to Lindley Boulevard, the locations included West Euclid Avenue, North Stone Street, South Blue Lake Avenue, Ayesbury Circle, Rouen Drive, Dutton Avenue, North Sheridan Avenue, Stewart Avenue, North Boundary Avenue, South Boundary Avenue, West Church Street, East South Street, West Euclid Avenue and Old New York Avenue.
Sheriff’s investigators say that they put a significant amount of time into tracking the cases, interviewing victims and witnesses, collecting and analyzing evidence and working to indentify the suspects. They even conducted an undercover operation in the hopes of catching the culprits in the act.
While investigators were making progress in the case, it was the targeting of Jackson’s boss at Winn-Dixie that proved to be the duo’s downfall. According to interviews, Jackson was bored and looking for something to do when he called his friend and former co-worker, Dekoeyer, and suggested the two drive around and throw stuff at vehicles.
For several weeks, the two would go out drinking at night and then drive around damaging vehicles. Dekoeyer did the driving in his Jeep Wrangler because Jackson’s driver’s license was suspended, while Jackson would throw bricks out the window and spray-paint vehicles they came across in their travels. Both said the vehicles were mostly selected at random.
But mad at his boss over some workplace issues, Jackson told Dekoeyer one night to drive to his boss’ apartment complex on Ayesbury Circle. Once there, Jackson got out and slashed all four tires on his boss’ truck and then the two fled the area. The very next night, they drove by the apartment complex again and saw that the victim had replaced his tires. Jackson thought it would be funny to slash the new tires, so he did. But after Jackson started bragging to co-workers, word got back to the victim, who contacted the Sheriff’s Office.
On Wednesday, Investigator Amy Smith confronted Dekoeyer with the evidence — including the fact that a Jeep Wrangler had been spotted fleeing from a couple of the crime scenes — and he confessed to his role. At the same time, Sheriff’s investigators who had Jackson under surveillance spotted him driving down the road and pulled him over as he drove into the Winn-Dixie in DeLand to report to work. Jackson was arrested Wednesday for driving on a suspended license.
During questioning, Jackson initially denied being involved with the vandalisms, but later confessed to Investigator Smith. He was arrested Wednesday for driving with a suspended license and taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.
After bonding out, Jackson was re-arrested on Thursday and taken back to jail on a felony charge of criminal mischief connected to the first incident on April 23 involving his boss. Dekoeyer also was arrested on Thursday and charged with being a principle to criminal mischief. Both defendants live in DeLand.
Volusia County Sheriff’s investigators are in the process of filing criminal charges on the other cases.