Russell Branyan Accused Of Burglary, Theft In Bizarre Crime Involving His Ex’s Thermostat

The thermostat is a common point of contention between married couples. The common belief is that the wife is always cold and wants it turned up, the cost-conscious husband determined to keep it at a constant 65 degrees. Former MLB player Russell Branyan is apparently not exempt from this argument.

At the end of October, Branyan was arrested in a quite bizarre crime involving his ex-wife. Believe it or not, thermostat plays a central role.

No one knows when Russell and his wife, Jill, got divorced, Deadspin reported. Just 14 months ago, Branyan referred to her as his wife, but sometime between then and now, things obviously went sour. Given what Russell allegedly did last month, the only working theory is that a spat over temperature spelled the end.

That’s because in the wee hours of the night on October 30, while the former Mrs. Russell Branyan was fast asleep, he allegedly sneaked inside her Tennessee home like a thieving Santa Claus and stole some stuff. For some reason, he also turned down the thermostat so that it would be freezing.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Russell allegedly took from the house, but whatever those important items were, Branyan was immediately remorseful for taking them. According to a statement, he confessed his regret to a witness.

Here’s an official account of the accusation against the retired ball player.

“The defendant made entry into the residence of the victim without having the legal authority. The defendant and victim are divorced and the victim is the legal resident. (He) entered while the victim was asleep and removed various items from the home. (He) also tampered with the thermostat inside of the home, making it extremely cold. (He) acknowledged [sic] to the witness that he had removed the items from the residence and now wanted to return them. All events took place in Davidson County Tennessee.”

The New York Daily News noted that Russell actually called his ex to tell her that he stole the unnamed items and wanted to give them back. That guilt came a little too late for Russell, however. He now faces a felony charge of aggravated burglary. He’s already been released on bond.

Under Tennessee law, that means Branyan forcefully entered a home intending to commit a felony while inside — like theft or assault. In this case, obviously, his alleged intention was theft.

But there’s more to the story than some pilfered knick-knacks and an abominably cold house. Back in 2008, Russell was accused of smacking his then-wife in the face during a spat that occurred while driving. According to a news report at the time, police were called to a parking lot in January that year to find Jill sitting alone in the car, crying. Apparently, she and Russell had gone to a restaurant that day and argued on the way home.

Branyan, who was driving, was accused of reaching over and grabbing her mouth to make her shut up. The force gave her a swollen, bleeding lip. Police granted her a temporary restraining order.

According to Bleacher Report, Russell pleaded not guilty to a domestic violence charge, then, two days later, changed the plea to no contest. The court ordered him to undergo counseling through a first-offender program for one year. The charges were dismissed.

The ex-couple have four kids together.

Branyan retired from baseball in 2014. His career lasted 13 years, and during that time, he played on 10 different teams. His longest stint was with the Cleveland Indians, where he played for four-and-a-half years. The last time he played in the majors was 2011, and then he moved on to minor-league stints with the Yankees, Indians, and Toros de Tijuana in Mexico.

[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]