A man convicted of two murders in the mid-1970s has admitted to breaking into a rural Platte County home to steal guns, money, and jewelry. James R. Vielbig, 51, of Weatherby, pled guilty to second degree burglary and three counts of stealing in Platte County Circuit Court on November 6, 2008.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, “This man committed two murders in Platte County more than three decades ago. Now, he’s back, breaking into a home to steal guns. All of us will be safer again with this defendant behind bars.”
According to Zahnd, Vielbig was arrested February 2, 2008, shortly after he broke into a home on Fry Drive in northeastern Platte County. The homeowner, who was driving home, saw Vielbig walking along the road carrying a bag. Upon arriving at his home, the homeowner discovered his home had been burglarized.
A Platte County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived at the scene and arrested Vielbig. The deputy located a bag containing a loaded .22 caliber handgun and a .45 caliber handgun taken from the residence. The bag also contained a watch, jewelry, money, and other valuables taken from the home.
Vielbig pled guilty before Circuit Judge Owens Lee Hull, Jr. Coincidentally, Hull served as Platte County Prosecutor in the mid-1970s and prosecuted Vielbig for two murders in 1976.
Vielbig was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the August 6, 1976 murder of William A. Schmythe. Vielbig also received a 45-year concurrent sentence for the October 12, 1976 murder of Leonard Strickland. Vielbig had been paroled on those prison sentences in 1989.
Vielbig is scheduled to be sentenced January 8, 2009. Because Zahnd’s office charged Vielbig as a persistent felony offender, he faces up to 60 years in prison. Vielbig is being held in the Platte County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond.
Zahnd said, “We will ask the Court to sentence this man to several decades in prison. A murderer who responds to his parole by committing additional crimes—including stealing two deadly weapons—clearly needs to spend his remaining days under lock and key.”
The case was investigated by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Amy Ashelford.