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Police charge suspects in JC bank robbery

Becky Campbell • May 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Four people arrested in Monday’s bank robbery stayed together in two hotel rooms and likely used much of the money taken in the heist, a Johnson City Police Department investigator said Thursday.

Daniel W. Rouse, 27, Knoxville; Timothy R. Cameron, 24, 299 McClelland St., Bluff City; Heather H. Collins, 23, 199 Brethren Church Drive; and Keisha R. Lafleur, 19, 119 Fitzsimmons Road, Elizabethton, were each charged with one count of aggravated robbery.

The four were arrested Wednesday — Cameron and Lafleur in Piney Flats when they went to pick up paychecks at a former employer, and Rouse and Collins on Bobby Hicks Highway several hours later — and arraigned by video Thursday morning.

Investigator Teresa Higgins said Rouse entered the Regions Bank branch at 1212 E. Watauga Ave. around 3 p.m. Monday and handed the teller a note with a written message demanding money.

According to a court document filed Thursday in Washington County Sessions Court, Rouse told the teller he had a weapon and it wasn’t a joke. Rouse fled from the bank with a handful of money, but as he ran down East Watauga a dye pack exploded, and he dropped about $400, Higgins said.

Police recovered that money, but the remainder — $1,700 to $1,800 — had not been found, she said. Investigators thought the dye pack might have left a red stain on the suspect, but Higgins said Rouse was clean.

“He didn’t have any on him at all,” she said.

At least one witness who provided information to police about seeing Rouse running away from the bank reported seeing him get into a black Honda Accord, but officers could never locate a vehicle matching that description.

As it turned out, Rouse was driving a black Honda Accord, which is registered to Cameron, when he was arrested. Police alleged Cameron was driving the getaway vehicle, and the two women were in the car at the time of the robbery.

“They all knew about the robbery before it occurred, and they had been together since it happened,” Higgins said.

Police said after the robbery, the four rented a couple of rooms at Days Inn in Bristol. Officers attempted to obtain evidence from those rooms, but the four had already checked out and the rooms had been cleaned by hotel staff, Higgins said.

“They were looking for a hotel room last night. They needed a place to stay,” she said.

During the investigation, Criminal Investigations Lt. Steve Sherfey received information that Rouse had been in Johnson City for four days and committed the robbery. Officers put Rouse’s picture in a photo lineup and showed it to the Regions Bank tellers.

According to court documents, the victim “picked Rouse out of the (photo) spread without hesitation.”

Higgins said another lead in the case took investigators to Pardner’s in Piney Flats, where Cameron and Lafleur were supposed to be Wednesday to pick up their final paychecks. When the two showed up, officers took them into custody, she said.

The investigation also led officers into the county to Frog Level Road, where friends of Rouse reportedly live. While in the area, an officer passed a black Honda Accord and turned around to stop it. Higgins said Rouse pulled over on Bobby Hicks Highway near White’s Fresh Foods, then fled on foot.

He was apprehended a short distance away and taken into custody along with Collins. Rouse also was charged with evading arrest and resisting arrest. After conducting a records check on Rouse, police said he was wanted by the state Board of Probation and Parole on a parole violation.

The four were scheduled for their next court appearance Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Cameron and Rouse were jailed on $60,000 bonds each, and Collins and Lafleur were jailed on $50,000 bonds each.

Rouse and Cameron have separate, additional charges of aggravated burglary, theft of property over $1,000, and fraudulent use of a credit card under $500. Those charges stem from a burglary at a woman’s apartment on Plymouth Road April 19.

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