Man with East Texas ties may be connected to string of home inva - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Man with East Texas ties may be connected to string of home invasions

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(KYTX) - Three men arrested for a string of home invasions in Florida, could be tied to two violent East Texas home invasions.  One of those suspects, Frank Bowers, used to live in rusk county. 

Bowers and two other men, Andres Perez and Jonathan Contreras, sit in jail near Orlando where they were caught breaking into an Orange County mansion.

They were arrested wearing black shirts, gloves and masks, carrying bags filled with duct tape, zip ties and guns.

The three men are not just being investigated for this one break in, but seven total in Florida, and now, two in East Texas. Many of these break ins were reportedly violent.  

5 out of the 7 Florida crimes happened in South Florida, in Collier County, where investigators say Perez and Contreras are from.  

Then just a month later, in April, there were two violent home invasions in rural Rusk and Gregg counties. The victims were tied up and held at gunpoint while they say three masked men stole their money and jewelry.

The Rusk County Sheriff's Office is working with Florida detectives on an open investigation to see if the crimes are all connected.  They all seem shockingly similar.  

A detective from the Collier County Sheriff's Department says, "To see it in evening hours when they know people are going to be up and moving around the house is a little different and kind of exclusive to these."

An Orange County arrest affidavit shows that after Bower was caught, he told officers "Windermere was my first one." That means he was admitting to the two Orange County break-ins.

Investigators say Bower used to live in Rusk County and was very well known in the Henderson area.

Frank Bower and his wife Tina opened a Family Prayer Center and Thrift Shop back in the 90's in Henderson. Just seven months ago, the family moved the shop down the street to Henderson's old Brookshire's building. 

We spoke to Tina Bower in person Thursday. She says her family's prayer center has helped thousands of people and says Frank was a big part of that.  

She did not want to talk on camera but offered this statement: "We are very sad for what has happened. We love Frank and we are praying for him."

There was one more man arrested in connection with the Orange County crimes about 5 days after the first three arrests. That is Ricky Contreras, Jonathan Contreras' father, who was allegedly driving the getaway car at the last Orange County break in.  

The investigation into all the home invasions is still open and ongoing. 

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