Tisbury police this week arrested two young men and charged them with the robbery of a 79-year-old Capawock theatre employee who was dropping off receipts for the evening in a nearby overnight bank deposit box.
Michael Ellis, 20, of Edgartown was taken into custody on Tuesday and Brett Geddis, 18, of Vineyard Haven was taken into custody on Wednesday. Both are suspected of robbing George Buckley on the evening of Sept. 30.
According to police, Mr. Buckley was robbed by two young males as he approached the night deposit box at the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank branch on Main street, about two blocks from the theatre. Mr. Buckley briefly chased the two men up Church street, even though he has had two knee operations.
Mr. Buckley was not harmed during the robbery, although the incident sparked outrage up and down Main street Vineyard Haven and across the Island, including strong words from Tisbury police chief John Cashin last week, who vowed to aggressively investigate the crime.
Reached by telephone on Wednesday a few hours after Mr. Geddis was taken into custody, Chief Cashin said, “I hope these two men are put away [in jail] for many years. The fact they went after a man like George Buckley, a very well respected, hardworking and decent man, is very disturbing. I am sick of people like these [two suspects] getting a slap on the wrist; as far as I am concerned these are chronic recidivists.”
Chief Cashin noted that both men have extensive criminal records; each had been released from the Edgartown house of correction recently.
Chief Cashin said Edgartown police played a big part in apprehending the two suspects. Mr. Ellis was a suspect in the several nighttime robberies in Edgartown, including a break-in and theft of several kittens from the Vineyard branch of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The kittens were returned to the shelter unharmed, police said.
Edgartown police Sgt. Kenneth Johnson said yesterday that police wished to question Mr. Ellis about those robberies, and developed information this week that he may have been involved in the Capawock robbery.
Edgartown police picked Mr. Ellis up at the Edgartown Stop & Shop on Tuesday and brought him in for questioning, at which time he provided information indicating Mr. Geddis had been involved in the Capawock robbery. Police then called Mr. Geddis’s mother who brought him into the station Wednesday afternoon.
Mr. Ellis and Mr. Geddis were charged with unarmed robbery of a person 60 or over, larceny of a person 65 or over, assault and battery of a person 60 or over and larceny over $250. Mr. Ellis was also arraigned on several warrants for his involvement in the Edgartown robberies.
As of yesterday, Mr. Ellis was being held at the Edgartown house of correction on $5,000 bail, while Mr. Geddis was ordered held without bail under the terms of his probation stemming from separate charges.
In May, Mr. Geddis was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle after he stole a car from the Tisbury Park and Ride and took Edgartown police on a high-speed pursuit in Katama that ended when the vehicle he was driving collided with a police cruiser. He was later charged with breaking and entering to commit a felony after he was charged in connection with a break-in at Brewer Tree and Landscaping in Edgartown.
In 2006 Mr. Ellis was convicted on charges of assault and threatening to commit a crime.
Chief Cashin praised Tisbury detective Mark Santon and officer Daniel Hanavan for their work investigating the case. He also said information provided by the public played a key role in apprehending the two suspects.
“The combination of public involvement and diligent police work made for a virtually infallible case against [Mr. Geddis and Mr. Ellis],” the chief said, adding:
“If we saw this type of public cooperation in every case we would have a 99 per cent rate of successful prosecution.”