Jim Gordon, who owns a private museum east of Santa Fe, had given up hope of ever again seeing a 1849 .44-caliber Colt Dragoon revolver stolen from his collection last year.The curator then called the cops.
And then the man accused of stealing it during a tour of the Glorieta museum appeared on a nationally televised program about antique guns, trying to get the weapon appraised, according to court documents.
That episode of the Discovery Channel's "American Guns" was seen by Jeff Hengesbaugh, the museum's curator, who was channel surfing in a Gallup hotel when he came across the show in February.
About one year after the theft and after Hengesbaugh attempted to get the gun returned without calling the police, there was suspect Wylie Gene Newton, 65, on television, talking about the $40,000 antique.
Police detectives in Wheat Ridge, Colo. – where the Discovery Channel show is filmed at the Gunsmoke Guns store – later went undercover and offered to meet with Newton to buy the gun. Newton allegedly bit and was arrested by police on May 10. Newton is identified in Colorado reports as from Erie, Colo., but has an Eldorado address, too, according to New Mexico court documents.Here's my favorite part, though:
Newton was booked into the Santa Fe County jail on a $40,000 bond Aug. 5. He had his arraignment in state District Court on Friday and will have a bond hearing at 1 p.m. Monday.
He faces a single charge of larceny in excess of $20,000, which is a second-degree felony, according to online court records.
Gordon said Newton called him about a month ago and started talking about the weather. Gordon said he tried to remain patient until Newton got to the point, and Newton eventually said he didn't steal Gordon’s weapon.I'd have to concur.
Gordon said Newton asked him if he thought he was stupid enough to appear on national television trying to appraise a stolen firearm.
" 'I absolutely do,' " Gordon said he told Newton in response. " 'I think you're totally, completely that stupid.' "