Mount Carmel pair charged in purse theft
ATLAS - A 27-year-old Mount Carmel man and his female acquaintance, who police say followed a Marion Heights woman to her home after she cashed a $500 Lottery ticket at a local store, have been charged with stealing the woman's purse.
Robert Warren Powers, of 339 E. Seventh St., who was released from state prison in New Jersey three months ago after serving three years for burglary, and Vanessa Ann Steigerwalt, 23, of 443 W. Third St., Mount Carmel, were arraigned on multiple felony offenses by video at about 8 p.m. Tuesday by on-call Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones of Mount Carmel.
Police said Powers and Steigerwalt, who met each other at a Mount Carmel bar two weeks ago but reportedly are not romantically involved, were taken into custody at about 3 p.m. Tuesday and detained at Mount Carmel Township Police Station until their arraignments. They were each committed to Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury in lieu of $150,000 cash bail.
They are accused of robbing Lisa Beury, 53, of 142 E. Melrose St., Marion Heights, on her front porch when Beury arrived home at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9 after cashing the Lottery ticket at Boyer's Food Market. Beury was knocked to the ground by Powers during the robbery and had her purse stolen. Powers then ran east on Melrose Street, north on Brunswick Street and east on Coal Street, where he entered a vehicle operated by Steigerwalt before fleeing the scene, police allege.
Only got $50
Police reported Powers discarded Beury's purse along Route 54 between the co-generation plant at Marion Heights and Turkey Hill Minit Market in Strong. Police said Powers stole only $50; he failed to notice the remainder of the money from the Lottery ticket was contained in a side pocket of the purse, police said.
Powers also threw away a green hoodie he was wearing at the time of the robbery, according to police, who later located the sweatshirt near a playground in Strong.
Police said Steigerwalt, who has no prior criminal record, was taken into custody at Boyer's Food Market, where she is employed. She moved to Mount Carmel in January from Sellersville in Bucks County.
Powers, who is from Camden, N.J., was apprehended in the 200 block of East Seventh Street, about a block away from his home. Police
spotted him walking as they approached his home, and he was taken into custody without incident.
Patrolman David Stamets Jr. and Mount Carmel Township Police Chief Brian Hollenbush, who both filed the charges in the investigation, Mount Carmel Chief of Police Todd Owens and Constable Patrick Reynolds took the defendants into custody. Mount Carmel Township police said Owens also played a key role in the investigation. Powers and Steigerwalt were transported to the county jail by Reynolds, Stamets and Hollenbush.
Police commended management at Boyer's and CVS Pharmacy for their cooperation during the investigation, which involved reviewing video surveillance at the businesses.
Powers and Steigerwalt are charged with felonies of criminal conspiracy to commit robbery with force, robbery with force and flight to avoid apprehension, and misdemeanors of theft, receiving stolen property and simple assault, and a summary of harassment. Steigerwalt, who gave police conflicting statements about the robbery and initially denied her involvement in the crimes, also was charged with misdemeanors of unsworn falsification to authorities and making false reports to police.
'High' at the time
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Powers told police during an interview that he and Steigerwalt went to Boyer's Food Market on Oct. 9 and spotted Beury, whom they do not know, cash a $500 Lottery ticket at the store. Powers said the defendants left the store and waited for Beury to exit before following her to Marion Heights.
Powers told police he went behind the victim and ripped the purse off her before running to Steigerwalt's vehicle and fleeing the scene. He told police he was "high" on Oxycontin and other drugs at the time.
Police said Powers indicated Steigerwalt also wanted to steal the purse because she wanted money.
Steigerwalt later admitted to participating in the robbery. The defendant said she initially didn't tell the truth because she was scared.