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Robbery, kidnapping charges filed

July 13, 2000

Robbery, kidnapping charges filed



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - City police charged a Martinsburg man on Thursday with one count of armed robbery and three counts of kidnapping in connection with the armed robbery of a fast-food restaurant this spring.

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Police charged Charles Lesane Jr., 33, of 214 Shenandoah Village, Apt. 3, with taking $1,500 from the restaurant at gunpoint on March 20. Police also alleged that he and three accomplices forced three employees into a freezer.

Berkeley County Magistrate Joan Bragg set bail at $100,000 on the armed robbery charge, but did not set bail on the kidnapping charges. She said kidnapping is a capital offense and bail can only be set by a Circuit Court judge.

Martinsburg Police said four men robbed the McDonald's on North Queen Street at about midnight on March 20.

One man, armed with a semiautomatic pistol, forced his way into the closed restaurant as manager Marisa Whissel was leaving, police said. The man held a gun to Whissel's neck as he let three other men, including one with a sawed-off shotgun, inside, police said.

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Whissel and employee Richard Lane were led into the restaurant's walk-in freezer, while employee Joie Inman was forced to open a safe, according to the employees' statements to police.

The man pointed the handgun at Inman's neck and said she had 90 seconds to get the safe open or she would be shot, according to the complaint. She was then led back to the freezer with her co-workers.

The robbers told the employees to stay in the freezer for 30 minutes. The employees got themselves out and called police.

Police have alleged that Lesane was the man with the handgun. In announcing his arrest on Thursday, police said they are "looking into the other suspects involved in this robbery and more arrests are forthcoming."

Lesane is also wanted for allegedly violating his parole on robbery, battery and burglary charges in Baltimore, according to a parole warrant.

He was released on parole Oct. 1, 1999. He violated parole by failing to report to his parole officer on Oct. 21 or afterwards and by moving without alerting his parole officer, a warrant alleged.

In a criminal complaint filed with Berkeley County Magistrate Court, Det. Sgt. George Swartwood said that police received a call four days after the robbery from someone with a possible tip. The caller reported hearing a door at one of the Van Street Apartments, behind McDonald's, open and shut on the night of the robbery between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., the complaint said.

Swartwood said that police found out that a woman who lived at that apartment with Lesane had moved to Shenandoah Village Apartments.

On June 22, when three officers went to the Shenandoah complex to talk to Lesane and the woman, Lesane jumped from a balcony and got away, according to Swartwood.

Police learned that Lesane was wanted for an alleged parole violation and obtained a fugitive warrant that same day.

Swartwood said that Lesane was arrested on the fugitive warrant on July 6. Bail on that charge was set at $100,000, according to court records.

On Wednesday, police showed his picture to Whissel, who identified him as the gunman, the complaint said.

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