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Former $500,000 Lottery Winners Charged in 5-county Burglary Spree

By Web Staff

Bay County, MI (WJRT)—About three years after they won a $500,000 lottery jackpot, a Bay County couple is accused of several home invasions across five counties.

These break-ins have been happening over the past several weeks. Police set up a task force, which led to the arrests of 28-year- old Stephanie Harvell and 29-year-old Mitchell Arnswald

“I know they been into five different counties as well, but in Bay County we have had about 13 home invasions done by these individuals we believe,” said Bay County Sheriff Troy Cunningham.

Investigators believe Harvell and Arnswald have been breaking into homes in Bay, Tuscola, Midland, Saginaw and Arenac counties. Cunningham said the couple had an off-the-wall answer if a homeowner stopped them.

“One of the things this crew was doing is, when they would stop, if they were discovered by somebody at the residence, they would say they were either looking for a dog,” he said. “I believe one time they said something about looking for some kids clothing.”

The couple won $500,000 in 2016 playing the Michigan Lottery’s Hot Ticket game. Harvell told the lottery then that she her husband, Arnswald, had been living paycheck to paycheck and she bought the scratch-off ticket the same day she had received an eviction notice.

Mega Millions and Pick 4 tickets
Patrick Herdeman from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin fills out his Mega Millions lottery ticket at a Citgo gas station in Russell, Illinois on the border of the state of Wisconsin, on June 29, 2004. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Police are not sure what they did with their prize winnings. They were arrested last Thursday after another suspected home invasion in Bay County’s Merritt Township.

“Lady got home and discovered it. That went over the air and one of our cars was in the area and spotted the car at the Meijer in Hampton Township,” Cunningham said.

Police questioned the couple after a traffic stop, where they had items from the Merritt Township break-in. Some property taken in the other home invasions were also found.

Cunningham said Harvell and Arnswald possibly were planning other home invasions

“They came out of Meijer. In the bags, a couple of crow bars and some rubber gloves,” Cunningham said.

Both Harvell and Arnswald face charges of second-degree home invasion and possession of burglary tools.

Cautionary Tale

The pair aren’t the first to fall from grace after winning the lottery.

Another Michigan lottery winner, Willie Hurt, was charged with murder several years after he took home $3.1 million. He was allegedly addicted to cocaine when he allegedly committed the crime, as The Associated Press reported.

In another example, David Lee Edwards, from Ashland, Kentucky, won $27 million in 2001. But by 2006, he had lost all his money.

“I’ve made mistakes in my past, and that’s been a long time ago. I’ve paid for those mistakes, and I went on with my life, and I straightened my life out, and I’ve been productive since then,” Edwards told USA Today back in 2001. “I am what I am today, and I thank God for that. I can’t go back and change my past, but I can do something positive with my future.”

However, things didn’t go as planned for Edwards—like many lottery winners.

After the win, Edwards and his wife spent the money on a mansion, dozens of expensive cars, and even a jet, according to the report. He spent $600,000 on one home and bought a $1.6 million Florida mansion.

Edwards bought a $1.9 million LearJet, three racehorses—who lost—and purchased two businesses worth $4.5 million.

He also bought a $200,000 Lamborghini Diablo super car and a $90,000 Dodge Viper.  He invited an NBC News TV crew into his home, telling them he was wearing a $78,000 diamond-encrusted gold watch as well as a $159,000 ring. He also showed them his $30,000 plasma screen TV, MailOnline reported.

Edwards also bought 200 swords, armor, and other antiques.

But after winning, he and his wife were arrested multiple times for pills, heroin, and crack cocaine, the New Times reported. They had both contracted hepatitis.

In December 2013, Edwards died at the age of 58 in hospice care—”alone and penniless,” according to USA Today. Before he was committed to hospice care, as MailOnline reported, he was living in a “squalid storage unit.”

The CNN Wire and Epoch Times Reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.