Wanted man caught in Middlebury
BRANDON — A Rutland man wanted in connection with an armed robbery in Leicester has been caught, but not before stealing at least one car in Brandon, police say, and possibly another.
Middlebury police arrested Shawn Michael Ritchie, 42, on an active warrant this past Friday at 4 p.m. on North Pleasant Street.
Ritchie was charged with assault and robbery, stemming from a Jan. 9 armed robbery of the Champlain Beverage store on Route 7 in Leicester, and with felony escape from furlough, from an earlier case. He pleaded innocent to those charges at his arraignment Monday in Rutland Superior Court, criminal division, and on Tuesday was being held at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland on $100,000 bail.
Ritchie was the fifth and final suspect to be arrested and charged in connection with the Leicester armed robbery.
On Feb. 25 and 26, Vermont State Police arrested four other Rutland residents in connection with the robbery: Robert P. Johnston, 29; Tanya Brace, 26; William Manfredi, 36; and Dawn Doviak, 35.
Johnston, Manfredi and Ritchie are each charged with assault and robbery. Brace and Doviak are each charged with aiding in the commission of a felony.
Based on their investigation, police say that Johnston, Manfredi and Ritchie entered the store and that Ritchie allegedly displayed a handgun and ordered the clerk to the floor. The three robbers went behind the counter, took money from the register and 11 cartons of cigarettes, and fled the store. Police say the three suspects ran south across a field, past the Leicester Central School to a getaway car where Brace and Doviak were allegedly waiting in the church parking lot off Leicester-Whiting Road. The clerk was not injured during the robbery.
Brace later identified Ritchie to police as the gunman, according to published reports.
Police alleged that the motive for the robbery was to obtain money to fund the suspects’ drug habits.
Ritchie’s exploits did not end with the armed robbery, police said. He was also charged with operating without owner’s consent after, Brandon police say, he stole a car from the Rite Aid parking lot in Brandon two weeks ago while the owner was in church.
The Brandon Reporter has learned that Ritchie is also a suspect in the theft of a 1984 Chevy Camaro from the Brandon Hannaford parking lot on Feb. 25. The car was found the next day crashed into the building with the stone façade next to the Congregational Church of Middlebury.
Lt. Rod Pulsifer of the Brandon Police Department said in an interview Tuesday that Ritchie confessed to taking a 2006 Subaru Forester from the Brandon Rite Aid parking lot while the owner was attending services at the Brandon Congregational Church next door. The car was found the next day in a field in Benson and returned to the owners.
Pulsifer said Ritchie had been on the radar of local police since the Leicester robbery, and had been known to stay with friends in town.
Ritchie has an uncle in Benson, Pulsifer said, which is why police believed he took the Subaru. Ritchie also has a relative in Middlebury living near where police found the Camaro, however Ritchie has not admitted to stealing the Chevy.
“We’ve sort of suspected him,” Pulsifer said. “I dealt with him when I worked at the Rutland PD. We knew he was in the area and staying with someone in Brandon. We would check that location for him regularly.”
Pulsifer said Ritchie confessed to a Vermont State Police detective after his arrest that he took the Subaru in Brandon.
Ritchie was already on probation and supervised release for nine previous convictions, including a three-to-12-year sentence for burglary.
Ritchie is scheduled to appear in Rutland Criminal Court again on April 18 to answer the charge in the Subaru theft.
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