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California couple arrested near Gothic on weapons charges

GPS leads them to incorrect cabin, ultimately to jail

By Mark Reaman

It can get wild up at Gothic and sometimes that means more than just studying marmots or watching college students party after a day in the wildflower meadows. Last month it meant a police stakeout that resulted in a California couple being arrested on weapons charges on June 21. They appeared in Gunnison County court on Tuesday, July 10.

This episode of a weird reality TV show began last year when, according to Mt. Crested Butte Police Department spokesperson Marjorie Trautman, the couple from California purchased a parcel of land in the Gothic townsite area, apparently sight-unseen.

Trautman said 45-year-old Whitney Thomas and his 39-year-old wife, Rachel, followed GPS coordinates to a cabin on CR 317/Gothic Road, near the townsite of Gothic, but it was an incorrect location for the land they purchased. The actual cabin owner made contact with the couple at the property and allowed them to leave behind some belongings rather than having to take the belongings back to California, since this couple apparently intended to access the correct property and live there starting in the spring.

“When the actual cabin owner returned to the property this spring, he found a rather large number of boxes stored inside the cabin,” Trautman explained. “The cabin owner moved the boxes to a trailer in the yard, waiting for the California couple to return. One box, being too heavy to move, was opened and guns and ammunition were found inside. The cabin owner contacted the Mt. Crested Butte Police Department, as he was uncomfortable with having the weapons, etc., on the property. The guns were found to be illegal weapons in length and type. Further investigation determined the California male was a convicted felon and therefore prevented from possessing any weapons.”

Trautman said a search warrant was approved by the courts for the remainder of the contents of the couple’s boxes. However, no additional illegal weapons were found.

“Arrest warrants for both the male and female were issued for possession of dangerous weapons,” Trautman said. “Upon returning to the area to retrieve their property, the couple was arrested and taken to the Gunnison Detention Center.”

Trautman said the officers knew the Thomases planned to return to the Gothic area on June 21 and so were waiting with the arrest warrants.

The couple made bail for release from the county jail and appeared in district court on July 10 for an arraignment. They are both charged with possession of deadly weapons, a class five felony carrying a maximum of eight years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Neither entered a plea at the Tuesday arraignment but instead opted to set a date to meet with a public defender on July 26.

In addition to the felony charges, deputy district attorney Joshua Dougherty also issued protection orders for both defendants prohibiting contact with any witness to the crime and a second order prohibiting the defendants from purchasing or possessing alcohol, marijuana or firearms for the duration of the sentencing period.

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