The final defendant in the Pioneer Woman statue theft pleaded guilty Monday but will not spend time in jail.
Kelli L. Summers, 34, of Independence pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court for her role in the theft of the Pioneer Woman statue from the National Frontier Trails Museum in June 2013.
Summers, though, unlike the other two defendants, received four years probation as a sentence because of her cooperation in the case, Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Mike Mansur said.
Jeremy W. Ratliff, 37, of Independence, was sentenced to three years in prison last week after pleading guilty in April to one count of felony stealing of an item valued at $500 to $25,000. In March, Randy V. Perez, 30, also of Independence, was sentenced to seven years in prison.
The statue, a beloved part of the Trails Museum, was valued at $75,000 at the time of the theft after it cost $35,000 at the time when the museum opened in 1990. The hollow, bronze 6-foot statue – a woman holding a baby in one arm and a pail in the other hand – weighed 1,000 pounds. Part of it, the clothing, had a blue hue to it, and that helped police piece together what happened.
On the day of the theft, Ratliff and Perez tried to sell the bronze at 12th Street Recycling in Kansas City but workers there refused to buy it because they noticed a blue tint and noticed that one part resembled a hand and fingers. The 12th Street manager at the time said the bronze would have brought only $578 as scrap.
Two days later, staff at the museum noticed the statue was missing. Police emailed area recyclers, and 12th Street Recycling contacted them, told them what happened and turned over a video of the attempted sale.
Ratliff and Summers were arrested later that day. Perez was taken into custody at a later date.