DNA links Ocala man to December burglary of ex-girlfriend’s home

Robert D. North

DNA evidence led to Monday’s arrest of a 66-year-old Ocala man in connection with the December burglary of three guns and other items from his former girlfriend’s home.

Robert D. North, of 6766 SW 114th St. Road, was immediately identified as a suspect and had been arrested less than a month earlier, in a separate incident, for stealing guns from the victim’s home and selling them to a local gun store. But it wasn’t until North’s DNA was matched to blood left at the scene that there was enough evidence to charge him with the second burglary.

The victim called the Ocala Police Department on Dec. 9 and told the responding officer that sometime between 10 a.m. Dec. 7 and 2 p.m. Dec. 8, while she was gone for a wedding, someone broke into her home on SE 9th Avenue and stole several items. She said the door leading from the garage to her residence was ajar, and that she first thought she might have left it open by accident. However, when she entered the house, she noticed that the wood trim on a glass door leading from her living room to the outside patio area was broken off and leaning against the exterior screen door.

The weapons missing from the home were a Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver, a Colt Mark IV .380 handgun and a Ruger Model 44 magnum carbine rifle. Also missing was ammunition for all three firearms, an HP laptop, an iPad and its charger, about 100 pieces of costume jewelry and some personal documents from a fire safe in her office, a police report states.

Police identified the point of entry as the bathroom window, where an officer observed a broken window and glass on the floor inside. There was blood on the glass and blinds that was collected for evidence, and there was a muddy shoe print on the toilet seat just inside the window, where it appeared the suspect stepped in from the outside.

The victim said she believed North, with whom she had had a romantic relationship from February to late September 2018, was behind the burglary. North had been previously arrested on Nov. 16, 2018 for removing four guns from the victim’s house and selling three of them to the Ocala Armory gun store. The victim said she was in fear of North since the previous incident, and that he was aware she would be out of state that weekend because she received the invitation while she was still seeing him romantically, the report says.

When asked what kind of shoes North wears, the victim said slip-on Croc Santa Cruz style shoes. Online research showed a match between that type of shoe and the print left on the toilet seat.

On Dec. 17, two officers met with North at his residence, where they observed him wearing the Croc Santa Cruz shoes identified by the victim. A cursory walkthrough of the house, permitted by North, showed four or five pairs of Santa Cruz shoes and several pairs of Croc sandals that all had a similar tread pattern as the print left behind at the burglary, the report says.

On Dec. 18, police executed a search warrant and found three boxes of ammunition beneath clothing in the back of a dresser drawer. The boxes appeared old and dated. An officer sent a picture of boxes to the victim, who said they looked like the ones her late husband had in her home that are now missing. But she could not be positive they were the same, the report says.

On Dec. 19, police executed a DNA search warrant and collected a sample from North’s cheek that was submitted into evidence for comparison to the blood found at the burglary scene. On March 12, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report confirmed a match.

North was arrested Monday and charged with armed residential burglary, grand theft of a firearm and grand theft. He was taken to the Marion County Jail, where he was released later in the day on $29,000 bond. A court date has not been set.