Arrest may solve several armed robberies

Published 2:55 am Monday, September 27, 2004

By Staff
NILES - On Saturday, Niles City Police arrested a man suspected to be responsible for eight armed robberies in Berrien County.
On Saturday, police responded to an armed robbery call at a Marathon Gas Station, 2323 N. Fifth St, at 6:05 a.m. It was determined that the suspect was the same man who had robbed the Berrien Center Grocery, 8907 M-140, Berrien Township on Friday.
Police observed a vehicle that matched the description of a possible suspect vehicle from one of the earlier robberies. The vehicle was stopped and the driver arrested after a search of the vehicle revealed the matching clothing and weapon, as well as money, from the robbery.
The suspect, whose identity the police will release after charges are made, was arrested for the above two robberies and an investigation by the Berrien County Sheriffs Department is continuing on the previous robberies.
A task force has been formed involving numerous agencies from Cass and Berrien counties that have had related cases and will be assisting in the future investigation.
On Friday, at 1:30 p.m., officers from the Berrien County Sheriffs Department observed Toni Murphy, 30, 507 Maple Street, leave his residence in his vehicle.
The address was under surveillance due to information about drug trafficking.
Dep. John Hopkins, of the Berrien County Sheriffs Department, initiated a traffic stop at Maple and 11th streets where Murphy turned into a parking lot.
As Dep Hopkins and Sgt. Robert Boyce approached Murphy's vehicle he was told he was under arrest.
Murphy attempted to back the vehicle away, then moved the vehicle forward, nearly striking the officers as they attempted to stop the vehicle.
The officers had to break the vehicles window to stop the vehicle and remove Murphy, who then struggled with the officers.
As Murphy was struggling with the officers he dropped a plastic bag containing approximately 9 grams of crack cocaine, with a street value of $900.
A digital scale was found in the vehicle as well. Officers also seized $640 cash from Murphy under civil forfeiture.
After Murphy was arrested, officers obtained the search warrant for 507 Maple Street and served it.
Officers seized small amounts of crack cocaine, marijuana and other evidence of drug trafficking from the residence.
The investigation is continuing and warrants may be sought on a second suspect.
On Tuesday, around 1 a.m., Niles City Police arrested Thomas Isaac Jones, 34, 2002 Bell Rd., pending charges of resisting police.
Police were conducting surveillance of the Admiral Gas Station, 1701 Oak St., when a white Chevy pick-up truck entered the gas station parking lot. According to the police report, Jones then exited the passenger side of the vehicle and used the pay phone in the lot. After using the phone, he made contact with the driver of the pick-up and left the gas station on foot, with the vehicle following.
Police followed Jones and the truck to the intersection of 17th and Hickory streets, where he made contact with an unknown subject.
Moments later, police observed Jones enter a dark Chevy Blazer, which police followed to a house on Tyler Street.
According to the police report, when Jones saw the police, it appeared as if he put his hand to his mouth and quickly placed it back at his side. Police saw what appeared to be a small whitish rock substance in his hand.
Police interviewed both men, at which point Jones was asked to open his mouth. Jones stepped back and tried to swallow multiple times.
Police asked Jones again to open his mouth, Jones refused to cooperate with police.
When police tried to restrain Jones, he flailed his arms in an effort to escape. Police eventually subdued and handcuffed Jones.
Jones was admitted to the Lakeland Hospital Emergency Room for observation.
On Sept. 19, Niles City Police responded to a call from an attendant at Legus Shell, 434 S. 11th St. The attendant told police she had observed a man driving a Jeep Cherokee who pumped gasoline valued at $14.00, and then drove off without paying for it.
The driver had entered the store and purchased several small items, but did not pay for the gasoline.
Police obtained the license plate number of the vehicle and photographs of the driver from the stations surveillance system.
On Sept. 18, a faded brown Chevrolet with temporary Indiana license plates drove away from Legus Shell, 434 S. 11th St., without paying for gas.
Photographs taken by a surveillance camera did not show the driver's face and police can not identify the car based on the temporary license.