A 2017 parolee who was arrested for burglary in late December has been connected to at least 23 other burglaries in Limestone County, some of which occurred while the residents were at home sleeping, said Stephen Young of the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office.
Eddie Ray Fulmer, 36, of Athens was charged Monday with second-degree burglary, third-degree burglary and first-degree theft (vehicle) after he admitted to investigators that he took part in dozens of burglaries in the county, Young said.
He was previously charged with second-degree burglary, two charges of third-degree burglary and first-degree theft (vehicle).
Young said Fulmer is being held in the Limestone County Jail on $45,000 total bond ($17,500 bond on the new charges), but he was paroled in 2017 and is ineligible for bond due to parole violation.
On Dec. 14, residents on Highway 251 reported a burglary that occurred while they were asleep in the house with their small children. The burglar had entered through the basement window and had taken multiple guns, chainsaws, and tools before stealing the victims’ truck to transport the items. The truck was later found abandoned in Athens.
Investigators developed Fulmer and his wife, Angel Ballenger, as suspects after they sold one of the victim’s rifles in DeKalb County. The buyer became suspicious and had the serial number checked, which determined it to be stolen from the residence on Highway 251. Fulmer and Ballenger were located at a hotel in Bessemer and arrested on Dec. 28, Young said.
Young said investigators also found a ski mask in the hotel room that Fulmer later admitted to wearing during the burglary. Further investigation revealed that Fulmer had a storage unit on Highway 72, and investigators obtained a search warrant on probable cause that the unit contained stolen items. Stolen property from the Highway 251 burglary and three other burglaries was seized from the storage unit. Fulmer confessed to the four burglaries to which he had been connected.
On Monday, Fulmer confessed to at least 20 other burglaries in Limestone County, Young said.
Additional charges will be presented to a grand jury. Fulmer targeted outbuildings and residences, and he would then steal victims’ vehicles only to abandon them nearby. Some property has been recovered, but investigators are still working to recover the remaining property, Young said.
WAAY 31 talked with folks in Limestone County about the crime spree.
“It is a peaceful place, and to think that you leave home and have to worry about if you’re going to come back to things you worked hard for being gone," Johnny Terry said.
Terry has lived on Highway 251 for ten years and says he’s never heard of burglaries in his neighborhood until recently.
“It’s a scary subject," he said.
Terry couldn't believe it when he heard Eddie Fulmer admitted to breaking into a family’s home and stealing multiple guns, chainsaws, and tools—all while young children were sleeping inside. And it happened just down the road from Terry's home.
“People around here work hard for everything they’ve got and to see somebody come in and take it is just unreal," Terry said.
Terry told WAAY 31 he’s glad no one was hurt, and deputies agree--it could’ve been a lot worse.
“There’s a potential conflict, much more so when people are at home," Stephen Young with the Limestone County Sheriff's Office said. "You could end up with a homicide. What is a person, who’s going to break into a house that is occupied by a family, going to do if he or she is confronted?”
But investigators told WAAY 31 they don't believe this was Fulmer’s only burglary. In fact, he told investigators he took part in at least 23 other cases across the county, which is something Terry hates to hear.
“Back when we were growing up, we left our windows up and our doors unlocked, and this day and age, you can’t do that anymore," Terry said.
Deputies told WAAY 31 these kinds of crimes frustrate them, because Fulmer was arrested in the past, served time in prison, and was later released on early parole.
“People are released from prison and they come back home, and then you end up with more victims, so it’s not as uncommon as we wish it would be," Young said.