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Charges mount for purse-snatching suspects

February 20, 2001

Charges mount for purse-snatching suspects



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


The number of robbery charges against two West Virginia sisters are mounting as police across the Tri-State area compare notes on a series of drive-by purse snatchings in the past month.

Sheila Marie Rickard, 26, of Millville, W.Va., and Sharon Jeanette Hearn, 20, of 516 Moler Ave. in Martinsburg, W.Va., were being held in the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg Tuesday on $7,500 bond each. They face forgery and bad check charges.

They were arrested at a Martinsburg motel on Feb. 8.

Police in Frederick County, Md., have detainers on the two stemming from a Feb. 7 incident at the Francis Scott Key Mall. In that case, a Hagerstown woman in her mid-60s was dragged 10 feet through the mall parking lot as she tried to prevent her purse from being stolen by two women in a car.

The victim, who was treated for her injuries at Frederick Memorial Hospital, was asked for directions by the woman passenger in a faded gray car, according to Frederick County Sheriff's deputies.

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Frederick City Police are investigating a similar incident at the Frederick Towne Mall, authorities said.

Washington County Sheriff's Deputy 1st Class Tom Routzahn said Tuesday he has charged Rickard with robbery in connection with a January purse snatching in the parking lot of the Valley Mall in Hagerstown.

His investigation into that robbery was continuing.

On Tuesday, Hagerstown City Police Detective Shawn Schultz filed charges against Rickard and Hearn in connection with a Jan. 30 episode at the Centre at Hagerstown in which two women in a car asked for directions from an older woman, whose purse was then taken.

Rickard was charged with robbery, felony and misdemeanor theft, first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment in that incident, court records said. Hearn was charged with robbery, misdemeanor theft, first- and second-degree assault, court records said.

Schultz learned that seven checks stolen from the Jan. 30 victim were cashed at a bank in Martinsburg and at a convenience store in Kearneysville, W.Va., and made out to a woman from Millville, W.Va., court records said.

A videotape of the transaction at the convenience store was collected as was a security tape of an unsuccessful attempt to buy a television set on the victim's stolen credit card at the Sears in Martinsburg, court records said.

Once in custody, Rickard told police she and her sister drove around parking lots looking for the "right person," usually older women with shoulder bags, court records alleged.

After the Jan. 30 robbery at the Centre at Hagerstown, Rickard told police, she and her sister drove to Baltimore to buy heroin, court records alleged.

Purchases were also made at Bon-Ton, Montgomery Wards, Kay Jewelers and Wal-Mart in Martinsburg and some of the items later were pawned at a Martinsburg pawn shop, court records said.

In a case remarkably similar to two recent incidents in Hagerstown, this latest robbery is being investigated by the Frederick County Sheriff's Department.

The incident occurred at 3:52 p.m. in the Francis Scott Key Mall.

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