Nearly three weeks after a local restaurant was robbed, Sheriff Dan Bullock said his department has a prime suspect who is already in custody in St. Charles County in connection with another robbery there. He may also be connected to a St. Louis County murder on Dec. 30.
“We are 99 percent sure he is our man,” Bullock said Friday. “One of our detectives hopes to wrap up the case within the next couple of days.”
While he did not specifically identify the suspect, Bullock said he is a 44-year-old man from Wayne County.
The sheriff indicated Detective Larry Campbell of his department has been in contact with St. Charles County authorities who are cooperating in the local investigation. Without going into detail, Bullock indicated there is evidence that appears to link the man to the robbery of Rosener’s Restaurant on the night of Dec. 21.
“This is a case where everything appears to be shaping up pretty good for us,” Bullock said. “Campbell and the other officers are putting together a pretty solid case.”
The suspect and another man from St. Louis County are being held in connection with the robbery of a supermarket in St. Charles County on the night of Jan. 3. They were arrested Sunday afternoon by O’Fallon police who spotted the suspect vehicle on Interstate 70 and gave pursuit. The men were taken into custody after a short chase.
When the pair were arrested, police said, officers found cash, weapons and masks in the pickup truck that was stopped.
Hazelwood police said they are looking at the two men in connection with the Dec. 30 murder of a Florissant man, but stopped short of calling the men suspects.
The 45-year-old Florissant man was fatally shot after he threw a barstool at one of the masked bandits during a robbery at a Hazelwood bar and restaurant. That incident occurred nine days after the holdup at Rosener’s Restaurant on U.S. 67 just north of Leadington.
Reports indicate that on the night of Jan. 3, two men went into the supermarket and held seven people at gun point while conducting the robbery. Both gunmen wore masks to conceal their identities. No one was injured in that incident.
The robbery at the local restaurant occurred about an hour after it had closed on a Sunday night. The gunman entered through a back door to the kitchen and herded about eight employees into the front area. The robber wore an orange ski mask and shirt with a hood, both of which helped conceal his facial features.
The masked robber grabbed the restaurant manager by her hair and led her to the office where she gave him all of the available cash. He then exited the restaurant through the same rear door he had used to enter.
There was only one robber seen in the restaurant but Bullock said it is possible there was a getaway vehicle somewhere nearby. Leadington police were on the scene very quickly and did not see the robber nor any suspicious vehicle in the area. Other officers responding to the scene and conducting a search of the area also turned up no suspect.
A dog was brought to the scene to try to track the robber but could lead officers only so far as a spot on the parking lot. This further led officers to believe there might have been a getaway car waiting for the robber.
Bullock said that while the method of the three robberies are similar, the investigation has turned up other evidence that links the Wayne County man to this case. He would not be specific about that evidence and stressed the investigation is continuing.
With the suspect already in custody, the sheriff said, his department does have time to get the case put together for submission to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
The suspects in the St. Charles County supermarket robbery are each being held on seven felony charges. Bond has been set at $250,000 for each of them.
The sheriff described this as one of those “scary cases” in which it is fortunate that no one was hurt. Had anything gone wrong during the robbery it could have been tragic. As it was, the robbery was still a very traumatic incident for the victims who were held at gun point in a very dangerous situation.