Two charged in home-invasion attack

May 24, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Three suspects in a home invasion robbery Tuesday evening held a man down, punched and kicked him, and poured boiling green beans on his head as his wife struggled to get away herself and find help, police said.

Two of the men were captured hours later by Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputies and Sheriff W. Randy Smith said they hoped to find the third suspect soon.

The victims, who were cooking dinner, refused medical treatment after their attackers left the northern Berkeley County residence with more than $3,100, Smith said.

The suspects, Michael Scott Fournet, 24, of 100 N. Potomac St., Apt. 300, Hagerstown, and Thomas Lee Russell, 22, of 124 Jackson Place, Apt. 5, Martinsburg, were arraigned Wednesday morning by Magistrate JoAnn Overington on counts of daytime burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and malicious assault, according to court records.


Overington set a $70,000 cash-only bond for both men, who were captured after several hours of investigative work by Smith and deputies M.W. Rephann and Sgt. W.A. Johnson.

"It was a team effort of the entire department to maintain surveillance, conduct interviews and ultimately make the arrests," Smith said.

In his complaint against the two men, Rephann said he was dispatched at 7:27 p.m. to the burglary victims' home off Grade Road and took statements from the couple, who said they were grilling food outside minutes earlier when three men jumped out of a red Oldsmobile Toronado and ran toward them.

The wife told Rephann that she and her husband ran inside and tried to close the door, but the men forced it open. She told police her husband knew two of the suspects, who began talking to him.

"She knew something was going on because Michael never brings strange people to the house," Rephann said.

While the men were attacking her husband, the woman ran to get her phone, but one of the men "snatched a hold" of her and broke her phone in half, Rephann said in his complaint.

While she attempted to grab her baby boy off the living room floor, the man still at large shoved her, the complaint says.

"She then tried to run back to her room and (the same man) slammed her head in to a glass mirror/picture frame and proceeded to punch her in the left side of the face and throw her onto the floor into the (broken) glass and held her head down telling her not to call the cops," according to Rephann's complaint.

After she screamed for her young son, the man let her go and he went to the kitchen where the other two men had her husband on the floor beating him, Rephann said.

She fled to a neighbor's house to get help after another failed attempt to get to her child, according to Rephann's complaint.

The husband said the men took his wallet and money by ripping his pants while he was being hit and scalded with boiling green beans, then they ran out the door and fled in the Oldsmobile, the complaint says.

Rephann said he and Deputy R.L. Steerman saw the vehicle traveling south on Interstate 81 while they were traveling to Grade Road, but they weren't able to turn around fast enough to find it.

Sheriff Smith later found the vehicle abandoned at the Rodeway Inn off McMillan Court and tracked the suspects from there to a convenience store, where he said they left in taxi.

One suspect went to Buffalo Wild Wings off Foxcroft Avenue to get his girlfriend's car and was arrested by Steerman in the commercial district in Martinsburg, and the other men went to Russell's home off Jackson Place, Smith said.

The second suspect was arrested at an Apple Harvest Drive residence, Smith said.

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