Woman charged with stealing items from dead Army veteran killed in Boise mall shooting

Army veteran Jo Acker (Facebook)

Jacob Scholl

The Idaho Statesman

An Idaho woman is in jail on a quarter-million-dollar bond for allegedly stealing items from a deceased security guard’s body amid the chaos of the shooting inside a Boise mall last week.

Mary Alyce Scarbrough, a 54-year-old Boise woman, faces felony counts of alteration of evidence and malicious injury to property, as well as a misdemeanor count of petit theft.

A criminal complaint filed last Wednesday states that on Oct. 25, the day of the shooting at Boise Towne Square that left two people dead and several injured, Scarbrough altered evidence of “the body of J.A. and the condition of property and clothing on it,” while knowing that doing so could interfere with a felony inquiry.

The complaint further says the misdemeanor theft charge stems from Scarbrough allegedly taking rings, a gun belt, clothing and other property “from the owner, J.A., and/or the estate of J.A.”

“J.A.” are the initials of Jo Acker, a 26-year-old security guard and military veteran who was one of the two killed after gunman Jacob Bergquist opened fire inside the mall on that Monday. Roberto Padilla Arguelles, a 49-year-old Rupert man who was shopping for gifts for his family, was the other person shot and killed.

In an email to the Idaho Statesman, Boise Police Department spokesperson Haley Williams said that after the shooting began, “a woman experiencing a mental health crisis significantly altered the crime scene by removing and displacing evidence throughout the mall.”

The felony property damage charge is related to Scarbrough allegedly going into Play Joy, an arcade in the mall, and tearing off sheets of metal, kicking holes in the walls and damaging other items, according to court records.

Scarbrough made her first court appearance on the mall charges last Wednesday via video call, and a prosecutor told the court that Scarbrough was inside the mall when the shooting began. “The defendant approached the dying security guard at the mall” before taking the guard’s boots, rings and a radio, among other items, the prosecution said. All of this happened during the police response to the active shooter.

Magistrate Judge David Manweiler, who presided over the hearing, set Scarbrough’s bail at $250,000, saying “the court’s very concerned about the alleged conduct in this case.”

Scarbrough also faces a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace in a separate case from the day of the shooting. A probable cause affidavit indicates that a janitor at the mall found Scarbrough “rummaging around in his office” before kicking her out and notifying security. Outside, a security guard escorted Scarbrough from the property. Police allege that she then began kicking over signs and taking cones from a mobile COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot of the old Pier 1 store.

Scarbrough then went into a portable toilet, and a nearby EMT working at the coronavirus testing site found “the built-in garbage can was on fire,” according to the affidavit. The EMT put it out with a fire extinguisher.

She pleaded not guilty in that case last Tuesday after being arrested.

Scarbrough is on probation from a felony drug case in Elmore County, where she pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in December 2019. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail and four years of probation, according to online court records.

She also has misdemeanor theft convictions from 2009, 2007 and 2004.

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