Sharing of information between Greene County sheriff’s deputies and Springfield police officers, plus tips from the public, led to the arrests and of three people early Tuesday for two home invasions just outside the city on Sunday night. The adults were charged late Tuesday afternoon.
Investigators believe John Pendergrass, 18, and Nicole Smith, 19, and the juvenile also are responsible for at least one other home invasions and robberies in and near the city.
Pendergrass is charged with two counts of first-degree burglary, stealing, first-degree attempted robbery, two counts of first-degree robbery, and three counts of armed criminal action. His bond is set at $150,000. Smith is charged with first-degree burglary. Her bond is $25,000. The juvenile's case likely will be handled in Greene County Juvenile Court. At least for now, his name is not public.
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott says officers from both departments thought they knew who the adults were, based on their photos at a convenience store at which they used a stolen credit card. The two adults were wanted for questioning about a similar home invasion in December in Springfield. Officers staked out a home in the 2200 block of North Concord Avenue in Springfield during the night.
Around 2 a.m., the adults pulled up in a vehicle beside one of the stakeout vehicles. That led to a chase of a couple of blocks before they were stopped and arrested.
After getting a search warrant, officers went into the home on Concord and arrested the juvenile. Officers also seized a gun that may have been used in at least one home invasion, as well as a green Ford Explorer that the robbers were seen driving in the convenience store photos. A woman in the home when it was raided ran out and was arrested on unrelated outstanding warrants.
One home invasion on Sunday night was in the 3300 block of South Clifton Avenue. Two men in dark hoodies broke into a duplex using a garage door opener found in an unlocked car in the driveway. A couple hours later, two men armed with rifles broke into another home in the 3800 block of South Cottage Avenue by entering through a partially opened garage door.
At the first home, the men stole a woman’s purse, a man’s wallet, and their cellular telephones. One of the homeowners surprised the men as they were walking around the home. The men fled on foot.
At the second home, which had five sleeping people, the men woke up a teenage boy and ordered him to give them money or valuables. They hit the boy in the back with the gun, put the gun in his face and threatened to shoot him. They then stomped on the stomach of a family friend who was staying at the home and also held a gun to his face. The robbers also fled on foot from that home.
The robbers then used a stolen debit card at a gas station, which is where detectives got their photos.
At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Arnott said he didn't know if the arrested people are suspects for the robbery at the Mexican Villa restaurant on South National Avenue on Saturday night, Springfield police are investigating that case, but that robbery and the home invasions seemed to be similar.
Just after 10 p.m., three men with their faces covered came in through the back door of Mexican Villa while employees were cleaning up. They told employees to get on the floor and said they would shoot anyone who didn't cooperate.
Surveillance video taken by cameras inside the restaurant shows the men putting money in bags before leaving. They got away with cash from the restaurant's safe and cash register.