SULLIVAN – A Franklin County grand jury has indicted a Sullivan man on felony charges stemming from an assault that occurred last May at Arapaho Campground located south of here off Highway 185 Spur. The indictment is identical to charges filed last spring in the case. The grand jury, in essence, agreed with the original charges filed by the prosecutor. In Missouri, a prosecutor has the option to take a case before a grand jury, even though charges have already been filed.
Josh D. Lueken, 32, of Sullivan will continue to face three charges in Franklin County Circuit Court: felony assault 2nd; felony armed criminal action; and felony tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution. The Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s office charged Lueken on May 30, 2012 and Lueken posted bond and was released on June 1, 2012.
The grand jury indictment returned on Sept. 27, 2012, does not add or reduce any of the felony charges filed by the prosecuting attorney’s office last spring. However, on Oct. 16, 2012 the court agreed to reduce Lueken’s bond from $75,000 to $50,000 (10% cash) and also approved the removal of an electronic monitoring device that Lueken was wearing since posting bond on June 1, 2012. The difference in the bond amount was refunded to the defendant. It was further ordered that the defendant appear at the court clerk’s window every Monday and Friday until further notice by the court.
According to court records and statements issued by Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke, an assault occurred Sunday, May 27, 2012 at Arapaho Campground. Lueken was manager of the campground at the time the alleged assault occurred.
The assault victim, Jeffery Pemberton, 32, of Cuba was allegedly being accused of making improper advances to a young teen girl that was visiting or staying at Arapaho – some or all of those advances being text messages. Pemberton would later say that the girl was an acquaintance and nothing else. Sheriff Toelke stated to St. Louis media that the text messages were checked and were not an issue concerning his department. The Sullivan Journal does not know the extent of the relationship between Lueken and the teen girl.
Furthermore, Toelke said that at some point late Saturday night (May 26), while camping at Arapaho, Pemberton was confronted by Lueken (allegedly concerning the teen girl) and struck in the face, repeatedly punched and kicked him in the face, head, and ribs, struck on the head with a pipe, and later tied to chair and beaten until unconscious. Sometime after this – about 2 a.m. or so - Pemberton says he was taken by automobile into town and thrown out of the vehicle somewhere near Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, where he was able to seek help at the emergency room.
According to Toelke, information obtained from a security camera led deputies to Arapaho Campground, where they seized a vehicle for evidence. In a probable cause statement filed with the court, police believe that “Mr. Lueken arranged for another employee of the campground to transport the victim to Missouri Baptist Hospital to avoid law enforcement being contacted. In the vehicle Mr. Lueken placed a sheet on the interior of the vehicle to avoid any forensic evidence being transferred.” Furthermore, the statement says that (after the vehicle returned) Lueken removed the sheet from the vehicle and discarded it. Police also say that after the alleged crime took place, Lueken “contacted witnesses trying to influence their statements to law enforcement.”
On Wed., May 30, 2012 an arrest warrant was issued for Lueken. Police continued to look for Lueken until he surrendered at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, May 31. By that time, local attorney Zach Rennick had entered his appearance on behalf of Lueken.
The next scheduled court date is Dec. 4, 2012.