A married Columbus couple were arrested early Tuesday on charges of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and criminal gang activity following a multi-agency search that covered more than 50 locations in four counties.
The apprehension of Christina Dawn Ricks, 30, and William C. “Shorty Mack” Ricks, 39, was announced in a Tuesday afternoon press release by Edinburgh Police Chief David Mann.
Area police agencies have been working to connect two Jan. 19 crimes: the early morning burglary of Myers Grocery Store in Ogilville, and the armed robbery of the Bonkerz Sunoco convenience store off Interstate 65 in Edinburgh later that evening.
Mann said surveillance video confirms the same white, late-1990s Ford Explorer was used in both the burglary and armed robbery.
Both security tapes and an eyewitness indicated three masked robbers used a semiautomatic pistol to rob the Edinburgh convenience store of money, a rack of sunglasses, cigarettes and a box of lighters. Video taken at the Ogilville grocery store showed an SUV being used to push a large wooden church pew through the entrance. Cigarettes, lottery tickets and cash were taken from the business on State Road 58.
The husband and wife, who live on Cottage Avenue, were taken into custody before dawn Tuesday at a house in the 1200 block of Franklin Street, according to a police report. They were apprehended one week after Devin James Menser, 22, of Columbus, was arrested on charges of burglary and theft in connection with the Myers Grocery burglary.
Mann said the Shelby County bench warrants issued for their arrests are only in connection with the Edinburgh armed robbery.
He added that after investigators made their initial contact with the Rickses following Menser’s arrest, the couple moved out of their home. Mann said that led to an extensive, multi-county search that was not publicized out of concern the Rickses might flee the region.
Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Slate had spotted the Ford Explorer during routine patrol. A computer check showed the vehicle was registered to Menser. After investigators searched the SUV and discovered evidence from at least one of the crime scenes, the vehicle was seized and Menser was arrested.
Mann said Menser was served a Shelby County warrant at the Bartholomew County Jail identical to the ones used to arrest the Rickses, which indicates that authorities believe Menser was involved in both crimes. However, Maj. Todd Noblitt of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department said the Rickses are not considered suspects in the Myers burglary.
Criminal gang activity, as defined by Indiana Code, refers to a group with at least three members that participate in the commission of a felony, Noblitt said.
The Rickses, who are charged in the warrant with two Class B felonies and one Class D felony, are being held without bond at the Shelby County jail. It would be up to Shelby County prosecutor R. Kent Apsley to formal charges against them, as well as Menser.
Mann said the joint investigation received assistance from the Columbus Police Department and the Indiana State Police.