AP NEWS

South Strabane police charge woman with bank robberies

January 6, 2017

South Strabane Township police obtained an arrest warrant for a West Virginia woman who is accused of not only robbing two banks in Trinity Point just before Christmas but also two banks in West Virginia and two more in Ohio.Christine Joy Martin, 30, of Davisville, has been in North Central Regional Jail in Greenwood, W.Va., on $150,000 bond since being taken into custody Dec. 30 for allegedly robbing a bank in Morgantown, W.Va.South Strabane police Detective Ken Torboli charged Martin with two counts of robbery and two counts of robbing a financial institution for allegedly robbing the First Commonwealth and Wesbanco branches Dec. 23. Police said Martin robbed the two South Strabane banks in much the same manner as when she allegedly robbed the United Bank in Morgantown on Dec. 20 - by handing the teller a note demanding money.Police said she entered the Wesbanco branch at 2:22 p.m. and handed over a note. After getting cash, she allegedly fled down Trinity Circle and, 11 minutes later, handed the teller at First Commonwealth a note demanding cash. She then fled in an unknown direction, according to police.During his investigation, Torboli learned that a bank in Fairmont, W.Va., had been robbed Nov. 4. He also found out about the Morgantown robbery and the robberies of banks in Athens, Ohio, on Dec. 27 and 29. It was determined that the suspect in all five robberies had the same physical appearance and used a note to demand money. Torboli said no weapon was ever shown.“Once we learned of those robberies, police were contacted and information was exchanged,” Torboli said. “There were several agencies involved.“When Martin was taken into custody at a motel in Parkersburg, W.Va., she had on a dark jacket and white shoes consistent with what was worn during the robberies in South Strabane. Use of her cellphone around the time of those two robberies also was traced to a tower off Berry Road in South Strabane.During an interview with a Morgantown police detective, Martin allegedly admitted to the South Strabane robberies. She reportedly described the heists in detail, telling the detective she parked in the McDonald’s lot for the Wesbanco robbery and then drove to the nearby Red Robin lot, where she parked her vehicle before robbing First Commonwealth.Investigators executed a search warrant on a Morgantown apartment where Martin reportedly had been staying. Police said they found a handwritten note consistent with the one presented to the tellers at the South Strabane banks. Also found in the apartment was a dark knit hat similar to the one worn by the suspect in the First Commonwealth robbery.Torboli, who has not had an opportunity to interview the 30-year-old, said Martin told investigators in West Virginia that she robbed the banks because of an addiction to heroin.Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone said that in addition to his office and South Strabane police, agencies involved in the investigation included police from Morgantown, Fairmont, Athens and Parkersburg, and the U.S. Marshals Service.Torboli said no timetable has been established for Martin’s return to Washington County, nor has a preliminary hearing been scheduled before District Judge Jay Weller. Vittone said Deputy District Attorney Jerome Moschetta will prosecute the case.