SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Seven men have been arrested after traveling across southern Pennsylvania, targeting and robbing motorists at various rest stops, state police report.
Numerous felony charges have been filed against six men from Cincinnati, Ohio: Danny Williams, 48, Robert Murphy, 70, John Black, 38, Robert Chandler, 44, Adam Smith, 38, and Darrell Noel III, 38. The seventh man is Wendell A. Compton, 54, from Knoxville, Tenn.
According to the criminal complaint, the men were finally stopped and found with over $21,000 in cash, jewelry, and other items such as CB radios and cell phones to communicate with, maps, and pocket truck stop guides.
The first call of a rest stop robbery came in at 4:30 p.m. April 18 in Washington County with the last known one happening the next morning, April 19, at 9:30 a.m. in Dauphin County.
Through the investigation that spanned multiple police departments and state police barracks, it was discovered that the seven men used three different vehicles — a Dodge Caravan, Honda Pilot, and Kia Optima, investigators said.
Each place they stopped followed the same setup for the robbery. One of the men would sit in the parking area playing a card game where “red card wins,” while another suspect they were traveling with would claim that a “truck driver hit a $50,000 jackpot and wanted to share the wealth,” according to the criminal complaint.
In most cases, police said they would follow their victim to an ATM to withdraw money and then urge them to play the card game. At that point, the man playing the card game would run off with the victim’s cash while the other suspect snatched whatever jewelry he could from the victim.
The complaint shows that the suspects stopped and ran their scam at a Welcome Center in Donegal Township in Washington County, Flying J truck stop in South Huntingdon Township in Westmoreland County, and the Somerset Service Plaza on the PA Turnpike in Somerset, all on April 18 between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. The final hit the next morning was at the Grantville Rest Area on I-81 in Dauphin County, according to investigators.
After finally catching the group in Westmoreland County on April 19, some refused to talk, and a couple of others admitted to the card game but told police it was just gambling and there was nothing wrong with that.
Chandler, however, claimed he and Compton were going to see family when they got a call that something bad happened back home, the complaint reads. They then slept at a Sheetz off of I-81 in Dauphin County so they could go to the methadone clinic before heading back to Ohio.
Numerous felonies have been filed against all seven men including theft, robbery, corrupt organizations, conspiracy, receiving stolen property and more.
All seven men have had bail denied. They are currently lodged in Westmoreland County Prison.