CLEVELAND | A man wanted in the killings of an elderly Ohio couple and suspected of committing armed robberies in three states fled from sheriff’s deputies in Arizona in his van and then on foot before being arrested early Thursday after a nationwide manhunt, authorities said.
The FBI had issued a federal warrant for 29-year-old Robert Clark in the abduction and slayings last month of 88-year-old Doyle Chumney and his 79-year-old wife, Lillian, in Strasburg, Ohio, and the robberies of stores in West Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia last weekend. The FBI posted a $20,000 reward for information leading to Clark’s capture and alerted people in Jacksonville to be on the lookout for Clark who has connections here.
The Mohave County sheriff’s office said Thursday that Clark sped away when deputies tried to stop his van on Interstate 40 near Kingman, Ariz. The sheriff’s office had received a bulletin to look for Clark, his van and his two companions Wednesday.
Deputies followed the van into Kingman, and Clark eventually pulled onto a dirt road, where the van became stuck, authorities said. He and his two companions fled on foot, the sheriff’s office said.
Clark and Tabatha Hazel, 26, were quickly caught and arrested, authorities said. Law enforcement caught Jeffrey Caley Jr., 28, hours later.
The three are in custody. At one point during the investigation, authorities suspected they may have been headed to Jacksonville.
Hazel and Caley are suspects in the armed robberies but not in the killings. The Chumneys’ remains were found inside their badly burned car on a country road in northeast Ohio on Jan. 22, the day after they were reported missing.
Clark, Hazel and Caley had been last seen during a robbery in Donalsonville, Ga., on Sunday night, authorities in Ohio said. A surveillance video from that robbery shows Clark holding a sawed-off shotgun and Caley holding a pistol as a clerk walks in front of them. Hazel went inside the store before Clark and Caley entered, Couts said.
Diane Enama, one of the Chumneys’ four children, declined to comment Thursday. She found her parents’ home ransacked Jan. 21. Police have recovered items taken from the couple’s home.
A second suspect in the slayings, 21-year-old Jeffery Stewart, was arrested Jan. 31. He is charged with one count of murder and is being held on $2 million bond. Authorities have said Stewart implicated himself and Clark in the killings. It appears that Clark and Stewart knew each other through a landscaping service where they had worked, Coshocton County sheriff’s detective Tom Couts has said.
Clark was released from prison in May after serving a 4 1/2-year sentence for robbery and other charges.
Couts said authorities believe the Chumneys were driven to a country road in Coshocton County where they were shot before their car was set on fire.
Authorities received a break in the investigation after surveillance video was released to the public that shows Clark’s van at a gas station where Stewart bought a gas can and filled it, Couts said. Stewart called police after seeing the video. He was arrested on a traffic warrant and provided statements implicating himself and Clark, Couts said.