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Berkeley Co. man charged in vehicle theft, armed robbery

May 31, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County man who allegedly stole a vehicle in Jefferson County and used it to rob a convenience store over Memorial Day weekend was arrested Tuesday, police said.

Ernest Jay Wingerd, of 1282 Jacobs Road, Martinsburg, was arrested at his home by West Virginia State Police troopers W.M. Roden and J.D. Burkhart, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Wingerd, 42, was arraigned by Magistrate Harry L. Snow on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, armed robbery and possession of a controlled substance (heroin), records show.

Snow set a $130,000 bond for Wingerd, who was identified by Washington County authorities as the suspect in the armed robbery Sunday of Lynn's Convenience Store at 28 Forever Green Drive off Grade Road in northern Berkeley County, records show.

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According to police, Wingerd allegedly showed a gun to the store clerk, stole $640 and left in a silver Ford Expedition minutes before State Police Trooper K.D. Castle responded to the store at 7:54 p.m.

Roden said in his complaint that he and Burkhart learned that a silver 1997 Ford Expedition was reported stolen at 2:57 p.m. Sunday from Home Depot in Ranson, W.Va.

The same vehicle also was identified in the theft of $82.90 in gas from Sheetz in Charles Town at 5:15 p.m., Roden said.

At Wingerd's home, Roden said police found the stolen vehicle in a garage and clothing in the residence that matched the description of the robbery suspect.

When asked about the robbery, Roden said Wingerd indicated he was drunk.

"'I don't remember much about it,'" Wingerd allegedly told Burkhart, according to court documents.

Roden said he found drug paraphernalia and four small bags with heroin in a smokeless tobacco container in Wingerd's pants pocket, according to the complaint.

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