OZARK, MISSOURI — A former southwest Missouri sheriff stockpiled 3 tons of food in the basement of the Christian County Jail in what his replacement suspects was part of an effort to prepare for the "end of times."
It's unclear whether the food, which was donated Friday to charity, was purchased with taxpayer money, The Springfield News-Leader reports.
The discovery follows former sheriff Joey Kyle's resignation in May on the same day he pleaded guilty to federal charges of embezzlement and using his position to promote a fraudulent investment scheme. Kyle's lead attorney in the case, Burton H. Shostak, didn't immediately return a phone call or email message Sunday from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Christian County Commissioner Ray Weter said Kyle began talking about the apocalypse after attending a conference in Las Vegas. Weter said Kyle spoke of Israel attacking its neighbors, the U.S. invading Iran and warships in the Arabian Gulf, all of which would lead to a major war — possibly within a few weeks —and culminate in the end of times.
Interim Sheriff Dwight McNiel said the food was "apparently purchased as part of an end-of-time plan — part of a survival plan."
Lou Lapaglia, who served as presiding commissioner from 2011 to 2014, recalled Kyle's newfound zeal after the conference.
"He was all jacked up or hyped up about what he learned or heard there," Lapaglia said.
Since taking over, McNiel said he's also discovered shoddy bookkeeping, noting that Kyle primarily recorded the finances of his department in ledgers with pencil. Weter said the 2015 budget of the department is about $4.6 million.
"This is a multimillion-dollar, publicly funded law enforcement agency, and it's shocking to me that records were being kept hand-written in pencil," McNiel said.
"As a taxpayer, I was appalled at what we found here."
Weter said he had been concerned about Kyle's spending habits and that other people in the county were concerned, too. About a year and a half ago he reached a "tipping point" and contacted the Missouri State Highway Patrol, he said.
McNiel said it's time to make known any and all of the problems with the sheriff's department and to move on. He noted there are multiple, ongoing criminal investigations.