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City police stopped, took photos of Va. man held in W.Va. bank robbery

March 24, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A week before Monday's two-state robbery spree, Charles Franklin Adams III was stopped by a Hagerstown City Police officer who thought his black car resembled the getaway car in the March 15 robbery of the Hagerstown Trust branch on West Side Avenue.

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"It was Adams, but we didn't have enough then to connect him to that bank robbery," Lt. Gary Spielman said Tuesday.

All police had was a fuzzy bank picture showing very little of the robber's face and a vague description of a possible vehicle - black with a large spoiler.

Spielman said Officer Marty Pitsnogle took a picture of Adams the day he stopped him even though he wasn't charged at the time. Spielman said he believes police eventually would have been able to connect him to the March 15 robbery.

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Adams was arrested Monday in Martinsburg, W.Va., in connection with a robbery at a bank in Inwood, W.Va. Police there linked him to the March 15 bank robbery in Hagerstown and with Monday's three robberies at two motels and a convenience store in Hagerstown.

Charges stemming from those three robberies have been filed against Adams in Washington County District Court, Spielman said Tuesday afternoon.

Paperwork charging him in the March 15 bank robbery was being prepared Tuesday, Spielman said.

Maryland State Police were finishing up paperwork Tuesday that would charge Adams with one count of robbery in the March 4 holdup of the Hagerstown Trust branch on Dual Highway, according to Trooper 1st Class Troy McDonough.

Adams, 31, of Stephens City, Va., was being held on $50,000 bond Tuesday at the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg. He was charged there with felony unarmed robbery of the Blue Ridge Bank in Inwood at around 11 a.m. Monday.

The Washington County charges will serve as detainers on Adams so he will continue to be held in West Virginia even if he makes his $50,000 bond, Spielman said.

Police alleged Adams confessed to robbing the Blue Ridge branch as well as two motels and a convenience store in Hagerstown late Sunday and early Monday, West Virginia State Police Trooper R.C. Copson said Monday.

On Monday afternoon, McDonough and Hagerstown City Police Officer George Brandt interviewed Adams about two bank robberies in Hagerstown earlier this month.

"He said he robbed the Hagerstown Trust branch on the Dual Highway on March 4," McDonough said.

Adams told Brandt he also was responsible for the March 15 robbery of the Hagerstown Trust branch at West Side Avenue, McDonough said.

Adams' capture came shortly after he left the Inwood bank with about $19,000. Nearby construction workers watched a black 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse with a large spoiler fin on the back drive away from the bank and notified police.

The car was later seen parked at the Hampton Inn near the Martinsburg Mall. Police found Adams in Room 300. A bank teller was taken to the motel and identified him as the bank robber, according to charging documents.

The $19,000 was recovered.

He will face the robbery charge in West Virginia and could be extradited to Maryland later to face any charges from the Hagerstown robberies, according to Copson.

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