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Snow tracks help police nab suspect



Published: Sat, February 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The victim had his wallet stolen outside a West Side laundry.

YOUNGSTOWN -- When it comes to tracking a suspect, cops love freshly fallen snow.

Footprints in Thursday's new snow led police from the Brite & amp; White Laundromat, 3212 Mahoning Ave., where a 74-year-old man had been robbed, to an apartment in the 1900 block of Riblett Street.

The suspect, 20-year-old Christopher M. Thompson, was found hiding under a bed by Patrolman Richard Gresh and John Ragan. Thompson, of Cooper Street, was arrested on a charge of aggravated robbery and taken to the Mahoning County jail.

At arraignment Friday in municipal court, Thompson's bond was set at $25,000 by Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. Thompson will be back in court Feb. 23 for a preliminary hearing.

The search began around 7 a.m. Thursday when a retired North Evanston Avenue man told Gresh and Ragan he was robbed in the Brite & amp; White parking lot. The victim said he had been standing near the passenger side of his car when he felt an arm go around his neck and an object against his throat.

After taking the victim's wallet, the robber ran north on North Dunlap Avenue. The elderly man showed police where the robbery took place and the robber's direction.

Mother Nature's help

Gresh and Ragan said that, because of the freshly fallen snow, they were able to follow the footprints. The trail led them west on Oakwood Avenue, north on Winchester Avenue, west on Connecticut Avenue, then north on Meridian Road to Oregon Avenue.

The footprints went through a grassy area and ended at the rear of the Riblett Street apartment.

The tenant allowed the officers in, saying she was there with her 4-year-old daughter. After being told about the robbery and footprints, she admitted that her boyfriend, Thompson, was in the apartment, too.

After finding Thompson under a bed, police spotted a pair of wet black tennis shoes near the front door. The sole pattern matched the tracks in the snow, police said.

Thompson's hooded green jacket, found on a chair, matched the description of the clothing the victim described.

Sgt. John Ondomisi, who supervised the investigation, said the victim's wallet wasn't found. He said the elderly man thought a knife had been put to his throat but wasn't sure.




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