A week after four Centreville teen-agers — all students at Westfield High — were charged with five armed robberies, more details have emerged about their alleged criminal deeds.
According to a detective investigating the cases, in at least one instance, a woman was reportedly threatened with death if she did not hand over her purse.
Fairfax County Police say two people were robbed separately Jan. 8 in the 3300 block of Willow Crescent Drive in Fairfax, and another two people were robbed together Jan. 22, also in the 3300 block of Willow Crescent Drive. Individual robberies also occurred Jan. 22 in the 3100 block of Parkwood Terrace in Falls Church, and Jan. 22 in the 9800 block of Kingsbridge Drive in Fairfax.
In a Feb. 20 affidavit for a warrant to search the London Towne home of one of the teens, Det. Stephen Needels of the Criminal Investigations Bureau presented details of one of the cases against them.
He wrote that, on Jan. 22, a Hispanic woman was walking in the area of Parkwood Terrace in Falls Church when she was approached by two people. "One of the subjects pulled a silver, semi-automatic handgun and held it to her head," wrote Needels. "The subject with the gun said, 'Give me your purse or I will kill you.'"
"The victim complied and handed the suspect her purse," wrote the detective. "Both subjects fled the area in a dark-colored SUV. The victim's purse contained a RAZR cell phone, keys, credit/debit cards, and records and documents related to her and her husband."
Needels wrote that the victim's JCPenney credit card was used at that store Jan. 23 at Fair Oaks Mall. And it was used twice to purchase men's clothing. The transactions were recorded by JCPenney Loss Prevention and reviewed by Det. Eric Deane with the police department's Robbery Squad.
"The recording showed four males making clothing selections and pairing up with each other to approach the cash register," wrote Needels. "Two subjects made purchases on the card, and then the other two attempted to utilize the card."
On Feb. 19, Deane placed all four subjects' pictures on a wanted poster and distributed it throughout the police department. The next day, Feb. 20, police MPO Lou Munoz, currently assigned to Westfield High as a school resource officer, contacted Needels.
The detective wrote that Munoz recognized all four boys — 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds — on the poster as students enrolled at Westfield. So Needels obtained photographs of each teen and compared them to the JCPenney surveillance photos.
He wrote that they were positive matches, and police then obtained juvenile petitions charging each boy with credit-card theft, credit-card fraud and credit-card forgery. Munoz arrested all four teens Feb. 20 at school and transported them to the Criminal Investigations Bureau.
Needels wrote that all four were advised of their Miranda rights and reportedly agreed to speak to police, anyway. He stated that they all allegedly admitted knowing the credit card was stolen, and he wrote that two of them said they used it, and the other two said they tried, but were unsuccessful.
The detective also wrote that one teen reportedly admitted being involved in all five robberies with the other three teens. Needels stated that this teen "candidly confessed to robbing immigrants" of items similar to those taken during the Falls Church offense. The teen also allegedly stated that "the gun used during the robberies was a toy."
Needels further wrote that three of the teens implicated one teen in particular as being the gunman in most of the robberies, but that teen "denies any involvement in the robberies."
Eventually, each teen-ager was charged with 13 criminal offenses: three counts of robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, five counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, credit-card theft, credit-card fraud and credit-card forgery.
In a search of one of the teens' homes, Needels hoped to find some of the stolen items, as well as clothing worn and weapons used during the crimes. Police executed the search warrant Feb. 21 and seized a jacket and a Visa card.