Accused robber, 65, found dead near his home

October 25, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - The man who allegedly robbed a Hedgesville pharmacy Wednesday afternoon was found dead outside his home Wednesday night, police said.

The body of 65-year-old Roy Shipe Jr., who lived on North Lawrence Street in Charles Town, was sent to the medical examiner's office in Morgantown, W.Va., for an autopsy. It could be weeks before the results are known, said Lt. K.C. Bohrer of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

Lt. Mark Johnston of the Charles Town Police Department said his office received a call around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday about a possible drunken person passed out along North Lawrence Street. When an officer arrived, he found the man dead.


Shipe's body was then taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va.

Shipe was being sought by Berkeley County authorities in connection with a 1 p.m. robbery at Reed's Pharmacy in Hedgesville.

A man police identified as Shipe went to the pharmacy with a prescription for the painkiller Lorcet, police said. When employees refused his demand that they instead give him Percocet, a stronger medication, the man grew angry and told clerks he had a .38-caliber gun, police said.

He ordered a pharmacist to hand over all the Percocet tablets she had, police said. The pharmacist gave the man more than 1,200 Percocet pills, 500 of which have not been recovered, Bohrer said.

The man never showed a weapon, and police did not find one on Shipe's body, Bohrer said.

After the pharmacist gave him the pills, the man ordered her and another employee to get on the floor and stay there for two minutes.

When the man walked outside, he saw police officers who had arrived at the neighboring Food Lion for an unrelated call, Bohrer said. Seeing the officers, he walked toward a housing development behind the pharmacy.

Shipe's Datsun pick-up truck, which was found parked in the fire lane in front of the pharmacy, was impounded by police.

A West Virginia State Police K-9 picked up but then lost Shipe's scent near the pharmacy. Troopers in a Maryland State Police helicopter who flew overhead did not spot Shipe.

Later that night, Bohrer and another officer went to Shipe's Charles Town home, waiting for him to arrive. They were inside with friends and family members with whom Shipe lived when Shipe called, Bohrer said.

Bohrer spoke with Shipe for a couple of minutes and told him that both parties knew what had happened at the pharmacy and that Shipe needed to speak with police.

Shipe seemed coherent and said he would come home, Bohrer said.

Police traced the call to a bar in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and officers were dispatched there while others waited at Shipe's home for him to return.

After waiting for more than an hour, Bohrer began looking for Shipe. Several bars in the area were checked, but nobody remembered seeing Shipe, Bohrer said.

While police looked for him, Shipe returned home and collapsed outside.

"It's just a very tragic ending," Bohrer said.

Bohrer said he is not sure how Shipe got from a bar in Berkeley Springs to his home without his truck, but he presumes Shipe received a ride or rides.

Nothing seems to indicate Shipe meant to harm himself, Bohrer said. He said the possibility that Shipe overdosed on the medication cannot be ruled out, especially considering Shipe's age and that he had reportedly been drinking.

Jefferson County coroner Doug Pittinger said he did not go to the spot where Shipe's body was found and did not determine a cause of death.

A Berkeley County magistrate issued an arrest warrant Wednesday night charging Shipe with one felony count of robbery.

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