Commercial burglary suspect professes innocence
Detective has an ax to grind, defendant says.

By LIZ HEITZMAN of the Tribuneís staff

Published Friday, October 7, 2005

A Boonville man arrested last month on suspicion of breaking into and stealing from a Boone County furniture store says police have nabbed the wrong person.


T.J. Gosselin, 24, is charged with two felonies: second-degree burglary and stealing property worth more than $500 but less than $25,000. He appeared in court yesterday for an arraignment and pleaded not guilty.

His girlfriend, Genesis Kluck, 20, was also in court yesterday on misdemeanor charges of filing a false police report. She also pleaded not guilty.

Police believe she reported her car missing, knowing Gosselin had left it at the scene of a Fulton burglary.

Columbia police Detective Vance Pitman, who has been investigating the string of burglaries for more than a year, said the burglary matched the modus operandi seen at a number of Columbia burglaries he believes Gosselin is responsible for.

Both Gosselin and Kluck say Pitman has an ax to grind stemming from an earlier arrest. Gosselin pleaded guilty in 2003 to felony charges of property damage - relating to shooting out windows with a BB gun - and forgery.

"Whenever I first met him when I got in trouble for breaking out windows, he was mad that he couldnít get me for all the windows," Gosselin said. "Ever since then, weíve had trouble. Every time he sees me, he tries to arrest me."

While Gosselin admits heís had problems in the past, he said he has turned his life around. He works as a mechanic in Boonville and has a 2-year-old son.

"I realized it was time to grow up," he said. "I havenít done nothing illegal but not wear a seat belt and play my stereo too loud."

Pitman isnít convinced. He believes Gosselin is tied to as many as 36 commercial burglaries in Columbia. He said evidence has been collected at several of the crime scenes and is being sent to a state lab for analysis.

Pitman scoffed at the idea that heís targeting Gosselin. "If T.J. thinks Iím out for T.J., heís wrong," Pitman said. "Iím out for anybody out committing crimes."

Pitman called the evidence against Gosselin in the current case "overwhelming."

Those charges stem from an April burglary of The Home Store, 7700 I-70 Drive S.E., in which a bank bag containing $1,076 was stolen. Because the burglary occurred outside city limits, the investigating and arresting agency was the Boone County Sheriffís Department. A probable cause statement filed by the department said fingerprints matching Gosselinís were found on a light bulb at the The Home Store.

Gosselin still insists he is innocent. "The only way they have my fingerprint on a light bulb is if they stole it from my house," Gosselin said.

Pitman said the allegation is completely baseless.

"Iím not out to get T.J. Gosselin any more than any other burglar out there," he said.