Cocoa Police Arrest Suspected Home Invader of Murdering Former Cocoa City Council Member

By  //  August 24, 2020

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Homicide victim, 75-year-old James Wallen, was Cocoa City Council member in 1970s

According to Cocoa police spokesperson Yvonne Martinez, Matthew Inklebarger, above, was arrested late Saturday night in connection with the murder of James Wallen. (CPD image)

SUSPECT IS 43-YEAR-OLD MATTHEW INKLEBARGER

COCOA POLICE: “During his visit, it is believed he randomly broke into the home on Manor Drive where he encountered the victim at home,” said Martinez. “The victim was killed during the confrontation.”

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – Cocoa police officers have taken a suspect into custody in connection with the murder of a former member of the Cocoa City Council.

According to Cocoa police spokesperson Yvonne Martinez, the suspect is 43-year-old Matthew Inklebarger, who was arrested late Saturday night and is being held without bond on federal charges.

“On Friday at 4:45 p.m., detectives responded to a home on Manor Drive after a woman called to report her husband needed help,” said Martinez.

“When medics arrived, the victim, 75-year-old James Wallen was pronounced deceased.”

Martinez said that detectives believe Inklebarger traveled from Palm Bay to Cocoa to visit a female friend.

“During his visit, it is believed he randomly broke into the home on Manor Drive where he encountered the victim at home,” said Martinez. “The victim was killed during the confrontation.”

The suspect stole several items from the residence and Martinez said that 44-year-old Cecilia Poteet was also arrested in connection with the crime.

Wallen is a former member of the Cocoa City Council who served from 1979-1981 and again from 1983-1986.

“After following numerous leads, and with assistance from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene and Aviation Units, detectives were able to identify Inklebarger as the primary suspect,” said Martinez.

Inklebarger had federal warrants for probation violations.

“We want our community to know, and the victim’s neighbors to know that they are no longer in danger from this individual,” said Sgt. Doug Levine, who leads the Criminal Investigations Division.

“I’m proud of our entire team for their hard work and diligence in this effort to make sure this suspect was apprehended with enough evidence to keep him locked up for good.”

Detectives are working all leads of this ongoing investigation and are encouraging anyone with information to contact police at 321-264-7800 or can remain anonymous and they are eligible for a reward by contacting Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.

STAY TUNED TO SPACE COAST DAILY FOR UPDATES

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