Casper Man and Alleged Underwear Thief Pleads Not Guilty To Burglary
A Casper man on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to two counts of burglary, with both instances involving the theft of women's underwear.
Thomas Branstetter, born in 1963, entered the pleas during his arraignment before Natrona County District Court Judge Kerri Johnson.
According to the criminal information document, Branstetter burglarized an apartment in the 200 block of South Kenwood Street from Sept. 1, 2021, to June 18, 2022.
In the second count, he burglarized a building in the 300 block of South Fenway Street from May 1, 2021, to Sept. 7, 2021.
Conviction of each burglary count is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Branstetter's attorney Tim Cotton asked Johnson to lower his client's bond from $5,000 cash or surety.
Natrona County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri objected, saying Branstetter has had a criminal history including convictions for escape and forgery.
Cotton said Branstetter's previous crimes were old.
But Johnson agreed with Taheri and kept Branstetter's bond at $5,000 cash or surety.
This case began on Jan. 18, 2022, when a police detective was assigned to investigate a sexually-motivated residential burglary at an apartment on South Kenwood, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
The lone occupant of the apartment noticed she was missing clothing from October to the end of December 2021, thought she may have misplaced them, but lived alone and kept her place neat.
That same day, the occupant of the adjacent apartment was being evicted and found bras, underwear, shirts and pants in a closet where he allowed Branstetter to stay.
Branstetter had a letter in which he wrote, "'Damn! I love Stacy's lingerie! ... I'd like to spend a whole day in her place, just getting Girly!'"
However, Branstetter was not around because he had been arrested earlier in January for an aggravated assault of an elderly female and he was still in jail.
The apartment's occupant told the next-door woman about the clothing, and she recognized some of it as hers.
The woman was very disturbed, and told her boss who recommended she contact police.
She told police she barely knew Branstetter and saw him infrequently when he was living with her neighbor. She and her neighbor were friends and she often left her door unlocked so he could take her dog for walks. In retrospect, she realized she hadn't missed any clothing until Branstetter moved in.
Detectives executed a search warrant at the apartment and the front yard, and found dozens of items of women's clothing including undergarments. Many of those items had been soiled, some had vulgarities written on them, and some sexual items had vulgarities written on them.
The detectives also found court documents with Branstetter's name on them and a makeup case with vulgarities written on it.
The next day, the Casper Police Department issued a press release asking people if they had recent burglaries and similar experiences of missing clothing. The press release did not mention Branstetter's name, specific clothing descriptions, nor locations where he had lived.
The detective received five phone calls, and one woman was able to provide descriptions of her missing clothing that matched those seized from where Branstetter had lived.
That woman was shown the clothing items and identified 28 items as belonging to her such as thigh-high stockings, body shapers, jeans, panties, shorts and shirts.
That woman also said that clothing was in the basement when she lived in the 300 block of South Fenway before moving out on Sept. 7, 2021. When shown a photo of Branstetter, she said she did not recognize him.
That woman also recognized clothing that belonged to her daughter-in-law. The daughter-in-law was shown a photo of Branstetter and said she did not recognize him.
The distance was less than two blocks between the addresses at 300 block of South Fenway and the 200 block of South Kenwood, according to the affidavit.
The detective reviewed Branstetter's criminal history and found that he was convicted of burglary in 2015, and sentenced to prison for a similar crime at the Rescued Treasures Thrift Shop at its former address on North Durbin Street.
"At that time, Branstetter was also a suspect in multiple residential burglaries in which personal items such as jewelry and makeup were stolen," according to the affidavit.