Thursday, November 13, 2014

Deputies Make Arrest In “Scream” Mask Robbery

A handwritten script that began with, “This is a robbery,” was among the items found during a search Wednesday that led to the arrest of a 26-year-old man in connection with two recent armed robberies in East Naples.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office detectives said Jonathan Paul Wessel, who is homeless, wore a “Scream” mask in one of the robberies.    

Wessel is charged with two felony counts of armed robbery with a firearm and five counts of aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony. The charges stem from Monday’s armed robbery at the GameStop store, 9960 Business Circle, and a Nov. 4 robbery at the Circle K store at 12800 U.S. 41 E.

In The GameStop robbery, detectives say Wessel walked up to the counter and pointed a firearm at the three employees, demanding the cash. He removed an undisclosed amount of cash from a safe and secured the employees with zip ties before making his getaway.

Detectives said Wessel entered the Circle K store wearing gloves, a dark hoodie, dark pants with stripes up the side and a mask made popular by the Halloween movie “Scream.” He pointed a firearm at the clerk and demanded cash. He then secured the clerk and a customer in the bathroom and left the store.

More charges are possible as detectives investigate whether Wessel is linked to several other recent robberies in Collier County, including a Nov. 1 armed robbery at Bamz Deli, 2464 U.S. 41 E. East Naples, and a Nov. 2 armed robbery at Salsa Brava, 10265 U.S. 41 N. North Naples. The robber wore a “Scream” mask in both of those robberies.  

Deputies also continue to investigate two armed robberies Nov. 8 in North Naples: at the Newsstand Café, 1121 Health Park Blvd., and at CVS Pharmacy, 2344 Immokalee Road.

“Between the dates of Nov. 1 and Nov. 11, there have been multiple robberies with a firearm committed within Collier County involving a tall, thin, polite, white male subject that matched the physical description, the dialogue used during the robberies, and demeanor of Jonathan Paul Wessel,” Detective James Lockerby wrote in his arrest report charging Wessel with the Circle K robbery. 

According to arrest reports, Wessel was identified as a possible suspect in the robberies after detectives watched video surveillance footage from an Oct. 27 retail theft at Wal-Mart, 11225 U.S. 41 N., North Naples. There were similarities between the man who stole tools from Wal-Mart and the man who robbed The Game Stop, detectives said.

Upon further investigation, probable cause was developed for Wessel’s arrest in connection with the Wal-Mart theft, according to arrest reports. On Tuesday, deputies conducted a traffic stop on Wessel’s vehicle, and he and his female passenger were transported to the sheriff’s North Naples substation for interviews. Wessel declined to speak to detectives and requested an attorney.     

In her interview, the woman told detectives Wessel had been staying with her at her residence in Naples Park for the past three weeks, and that he recently came into a large amount of money, reports said. She also gave detectives permission to search her residence.

During the search, detectives found a handwritten note that began, “This is a robbery,” reports said. The note read like a script and contained a “check list” and “reminders” which were used in the Circle K robbery, reports said. Detectives also played the audio from the Circle K robbery for the woman and she identified the voice as belonging to Wessel.

The search also turned up a bank bag, which had been removed from a safe at The GameStop, along with heavy duty zip ties that matched the ties that the robber used to secure the employees and a written robbery note that resembled the dialogue he used.

On Wednesday, detectives executed a search warrant on Wessel’s 1995 Buick. A dark color pair of pants with white vertical stripes and a blue hooded sweatshirt were recovered from the vehicle. Detectives said the items are identical to the clothing worn by the suspect in Circle K robbery. 

Wessel remained in the Collier County jail Thursday.