When a U.S. Postal Inspector interviewed Jessica Nicole Weatherread at the Keller Police Department on December 30, 2011, she made two things clear. One was that she didn't steal the 400 pieces of open mail and packages addressed to Southlake residents that police had found scattered throughout her rental car the day before.
"I don't know how the mail got in the car," she said, reminding her interrogator that she'd had two passengers and that she'd overheard the eyewitness who'd spotted them rifling through the mailboxes saying he wasn't sure who had actually been taking the mail.
The other point: "I love drugs; That's my life."
The federal indictment filed on Wednesday against Weatherred and her two passengers, Paula Elaine Smith Sumera and Susan Lynn Smith, doesn't specify what type of drug she preferred, but the documents do give a pretty good idea of how she financed her habit: She stole lots and lots of other people's mail.
The scheme wasn't particularly sophisticated. According to the feds, Weatherred, Sumera and Smith would simply drive around emptying strangers' mailboxes and snatching parcels from their front porch.
The credit cards they would use until they were maxed out or canceled, buying gas, renting motel rooms, going on Walmart shopping sprees, and, in one case, visiting Dallas' Lido Adult Theatre & Bookstore. During one four-day period, they managed to charge more than $11,000 to a new Citibank American Express card they'd found in Southlake. Blank checks they would forge. Signed checks they would wash and make out to themselves.
Federal prosecutors didn't immediately file charges following the December 2011 arrest. Court documents don't indicate why, just that the investigation went cold for several months. Then, last November, Smith contacted postal inspectors and said she wanted to talk.
Smith told them she had just been released from prison and "wanted to take care of the December 2011 Southlake matter." She apologized for having refused to be interviewed at the time.
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Smith proceeded to confess what authorities had already pieced together, that Smith and the others were using drugs and stealing mail. But she offered important details, explaining that they'd stolen mail in Amarillo, Dallas and Keller before hitting Southlake and that she'd stolen one package from a porch that contained a Crock-Pot.
Smith's interrogator remembered the Crock-Pot, only it wasn't a Crock-Pot. It was a Dutch oven, and it had been a Christmas present for the homeowner's daughter.
Prosecutors now had a confession from one of the culprits, but Sumera and Weatherred were unmoved by Smith's change of heart and continued their alleged mail-theft spree. This past February, police narrowly missed them after they checked in at a Courtyard Marriott in Mesquite using a stolen credit card. In July, a Gainesville man noticed that mysterious charges were showing up on his checking account. In August, they were back in Amarillo.
Sumera and Weatherred were arrested on October 1 in Farmers Branch. All three women face up to 15 years in prison.