By GARY POPP
NEW ALBANY — A New Albany man and former owner of an area business is in jail on felony charges of stalking and criminal confinement.
Charles Conner, 63, of 2344 Corydon Pike, a previous owner of the Conner family jewelry business on Spring Street in New Albany, is accused of harassing a 43-year-old hair dresser for nearly a year after their intimate relationship ended in 2011.
The Office of the Floyd County Prosecutor filed charges Jan. 17 on grounds that in August 2012 Conner made threats to his ex-girlfriend that he would pour acid on her face and cut off her breasts. During the same incident, he is believed to have held the woman against her will in his home and placed a pillow over her head without her consent before letting her go, according to the probable-cause affidavit.
He was arrested by the New Albany Police Department Sunday, Jan. 20, and booked into the Floyd County Jail, where he remains.
The woman told police that she ended the relationship with Conner in March 2011, and that their relationship remained amicable until she began a relationship with another person in February 2012. By the end of the year, she would take out a protective order and file four police reports regarding harassment from Conner.
The woman provided police with a handwritten statement describing her relationship and experiences with Conner involving an incident in August 2012 when she was living in a home that she rented from him.
“Charles Conner came to her residence in a rage and loudly banged on her front door and windows,” according to the affidavit. “[The woman] allowed him into the house believing that he would not stop.”
The document continues that once Conner was in the home he repeatedly asked for sex, but the woman refused. The woman moved into her sister’s New Albany home later that week, police reported, but the phone calls and text messages continued.
“Charles Conner called [the woman’s] cellular phone 169 times one night,” the officer noted in the affidavit.
Police reported that the woman went to Conner’s home later in the month after one of the phone calls on the pretense that he wanted to apologize. At one point during the visit, the woman came out of the bathroom and was confronted by Conner who was armed with a Taser. Her statement included that Conner was getting very close and taunting her with the Taser.
She told police that he again demanded she have sex with him.
“Charles Conner pushed [the woman] onto the bed and climbed on top of her,” according to the affidavit.
The woman fought and screamed as loud as she could to get the attention of a neighbor, the officer noted in the report.
“Charles Conner placed his hand over [the woman’s] face and pushed her head into the pillow stating, ‘Shut up. Shut up,’” according to the affidavit.
The officer noted that Conner eventually let the woman leave after he made threats to her, which included him pouring acid on her face and cutting off her breasts.
On Dec. 27, 2012, an employee of Conner Custom Jewelers told police that Conner had previously asked his son, Bryan Conner, the owner of the business, for nitric acid and electrical tape. Bryan Conner also confirmed the request for the materials made by his father.
While Charles Conner is in jail on charges stemming from the August assault that occurred in his home, the relationship with the woman is illustrated in a series of encounters documented by NAPD.
Sept. 25, 2012
Conner went to the woman’s sister’s New Albany home, which she had moved into after the August incident. He knocked at the door for several minutes. The woman later told police that she did not answer the door and that Conner sent her several text messages threatening her and telling her to make contact with him.
The woman went to NAPD headquarters the same day and made a harassment report.
While speaking with an officer, Conner called the woman’s cell phone numerous times, according to the affidavit.
The officer answered one of the phone calls and told Conner repeatedly that he needed to stop contacting the woman.
Conner told the officer that he understood he is to have no contact with the woman and said, “You can tell her I, personally, would not contact her again,” according to the affidavit.
The officer asked Conner if he was insinuating that he would have someone else contact the woman.
“Charles Conner would not answer the question,” the officer wrote in the affidavit.
The officer suggested to the woman that she take out a protective order against Conner. According to the Floyd County Clerk’s Office, the woman took the order out Oct. 1, 2012.
Oct. 9, 2012
New Albany police were dispatched to the home where the woman was living. She told the responding officer that Conner had approached her after she got into her vehicle parked on Pearl Street after a work shift about 6:30 p.m. She said that Conner approached the vehicle and attempted to open the passenger door, then he walked around the front of the vehicle to the driver’s side door.
The window was partially down, she told the officer, when she told Conner that she was going to call police.
She told police that Conner said to her, “You had better not.”
She then drove away, the woman reported to police.
According to court records, the incident led to Conner being charged with invasion of privacy — violation of a protective order, a class A misdemeanor. The court issued a warrant for his arrest and he was later released and a no contact order was issued by the court. Conner is scheduled to appear for a pretrial conference in Floyd County Circuit Court Jan. 29 in reference to the invasion of privacy charge.
Oct. 29, 2012
Police were responded to the woman’s place of employment, a hair salon in New Albany. The woman told the officer that, despite the protective order she has against him, Conner had called her workplace and left a message for her to contact him because he needed to talk to her. The message had been recorded, and the recording was played for the officer. The officer then reached Conner on the phone and informed him that he had violated the protective order and that charges may be brought against him.
Dec. 10, 2012
The woman came to NAPD headquarters after discovering a Live Trac PT-10 GPS tracking device had been attached to her vehicle. She found the device as she heard it fall from a rear wheel-well of vehicle as she was leaving her home’s driveway.
She again told police she had an active protection order against Conner and that she suspects he may have placed the tracking device on her vehicle.
Dec. 24, 2012
New Albany police responded to Conner Custom Jewelers in regards to Conner refusing to leave. A female employee of the business said Conner was there acting aggressively and behaving rudely in front of customers. Officers noted in the report that the employee was obviously afraid of Conner.
The officer responded three days later to speak again with the employee. She told the officer that Conner had obtained a GPS tracking device from Bryan Conner in early December. Conner was to pay his son $300 for the device. The employee told police that she and Bryan Conner believe that Conner had placed the device on someone’s car and it had fallen off. The device, then in police custody, was shown to the employee and she identified it as the same device Conner received from his son.
The employee flied a protection order against Conner on Jan. 3.
Bryan Conner filed a written statement with police Jan 5. He included in the statement that he had sold an inactive GPS tracking device to his father. Less than two week later, on Dec. 21, 2012, Conner told his son he lost the device and he wanted information so he could activate and locate it.
The son did not provide the information requested, police reported.
Court records do not reflect the date of Conner’s next court hearing, where he will answer to the charges of stalking, a class C felony, and criminal confinement, a class D felony.
Bryan Conner is the current owner of Conner Custom Jewelers.
He expressed concerns Wednesday that the business, and the families of all the employees, could be negatively affected by his father’s alleged criminal behavior.
He said that his father, who he believes is mentally unfit, has no affiliation with the business. He added that the Conner family has been in the jewelry business for more than 100 years, and he hopes his the company will have the opportunity to continue its service the community.