An extensive manhunt for people suspected of robbing and injuring an 82-year-old man near Swedeborg last Friday ended with the arrest of five suspects. By Tuesday afternoon, three of them were charged.
Sheriff Ron Long says the search ended when the final suspect was apprehended about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Long says the investigation also led to the arrest of five other people, for whom investigators will seek charges for other crimes.
The search for fugitive Vernon Dale Parker Jr., has also ended, after Pulaski County deputies tracked him to the Fulton area, where he was arrested. Parker was charged on June 26 for a burglary and theft on June 15 in Osage Beach, and was charged on July 9 for a burglary and two thefts in Miller County on June 12.
Pulaski County investigators interviewed Parker on Tuesday about the beating and robbery of the elderly man near Swedeborg, but he hadn't been charged yet. Three other suspects were charged by Tuesday afternoon.
- Roby Sapere, 57, of Richland is charged with first-degree assault, causing serious injury, and first-degree burglary. A judge set his bond at $1 million.
- Thomas York, 35, of Dixon is charged with first-degree assault, first-degree burglary, felonious restraint, two counts of theft of firearms, and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. His bond is set at $1 million.
- Jessica Berry, 24, of Dixon is charged with two counts of receiving stolen property. Her bond is $500,000.
According to the probable cause statement against Sapere, deputies heard the victim screaming for help when they arrived at his house after someone asked them to check on the resident's well being. They found the man "lying on the floor, bound with his hands to his feet with duct tape and half naked." He was "severely beaten to a point where his eyes were swollen shut, blood covered his face, and he had several marks on his face."
The probable cause statement says the man's hands "were bound together for a long period of time causing the blood to break his skin from the duct tape cutting the circulation off."
Investigators believe the burglars stole "several collectable coins valued at approximately $5,000 along with two AR-15 assault rifles valued at $3,000."
Investigators tracked the coins to Jessica Berry, according to the probable cause statement.
"Berry stated in a written statement she received a phone call from Roby Sapere. Berry stated Sapere told her Dale (editor's note: apparently this is Vernon Dale Parker) went too far, by tying the old man up with duct tape. Sapere continued to tell her, every time the old man moved or made a sound, Dale hit him again," says the probable cause statement.
Berry said Sapere drove her and and another man by the home of the elderly man.
Berry is charged with receiving silver coins that were stolen from the beaten man. The probable cause statement against her says her parents confronted her about the coins that she had and she told them about the robbery.
Berry's mother told investigators that her daughter said she and Shawn Green were lookouts during the robbery. She later told a detective that "she had suspicion the coins were stolen."
Berry is also charged with receiving a pistol that was stolen in Osage County, apparently some time ago. She said she'd been given that pistol by Parker, who wanted her to sell it. When she couldn't sell the pistol, she gave it to her father for Fathers Day, even though she said "she knows Vernon steals and knew the pistol was stolen," according to the probable cause statement.
Investigators tracked down York because they found a Kobalt pry bar at the crime scene. They found that it was purchased at Lowe's home improvement store, and then found a surveillance video of the buyer of the pry bar.
Someone identified that buyer as York. Berry also told her mother that "she received a phone call that Tommy York along with two other males severely beat and robbed an elderly gentleman." After officers arrested York, however, he told them that he bought a can of primer at Lowe's but did not buy a crow bar.
In addition to these arrests, some of the stolen property from this robbery was recovered, along with multiple firearms for other offenses committed in Pulaski and Miller counties.
Long says more information will be released at a news conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday after Long returns from a sheriffs conference in St. Louis.
The elderly victim was still in critical condition on Tuesday morning.