Cops looking for the guns
Local authorities who are building a case against the suspects in two armed robberies are anxiously searching for a missing ingredient – the guns.
Investigators acknowledge they haven’t recovered the weapons believed to have been used in the Aug. 5 armed robbery of Clark’s Market in Aspen and Aug. 19 armed robbery of Snowmass Village Market.
The rumor is the weapons were tossed down a mine shaft somewhere in the hills around town, confirmed Aspen Police Detective Glenn Schaffer and other law officers.
That’s like knowing there’s a needle in a haystack. Miners riddled the slopes with thousands of exploration holes from Richmond Ridge to Hunter Creek Valley. Even after natural cave-ins and intentional closings, hundreds of shafts and holes remain.
Even without the guns, the district attorney’s office believes it has enough evidence to convict the suspects. Formal charges were filed Monday against four suspects in the Clark’s robbery and two suspects in the Village Market robbery.
Charged in the Clark’s robbery were Moses Greengrass, Yuri Ognacevic and Jacob Richards, all 18, and Cody Wille, 17. Charges were filed in relation to the Village Market robbery against Greengrass and William “Wade” Hammond, 18.
Three of the alleged participants – Richards, Ognacevic and Wille – have reportedly confessed in the Clark’s Market robbery and implicated Greengrass and another suspect who hasn’t been formally charged.
In addition, information supplied by Richards and Ognacevic was used to acquire arrest warrants for Hammond and Greengrass on charges tied to the Village Market robbery.
One of the suspects in the Clark’s Market robbery carried a rifle while another had a “black pistol,” victims told police. The victim in the Village Market holdup said one of the robbers carried a “black, semi-automatic handgun.” Investigators believe the victim was pistol-whipped with that gun.
Police said Wille confessed Sept. 23 to carrying a BB gun during the Clark’s robbery and he identified another suspect as “covering the area” with the rifle.
In an interview with Richards on Sept. 30, investigators said they were told the .22 caliber rifle belonged to Ognacevic.
Richards also told investigators that the BB gun used in the Clark’s robbery was used again in the Village Market robbery, according to court documents.
The arrest affidavits don’t disclose how or when the guns disappeared. Investigators were hoping to find the guns and other physical evidence when they obtained a warrant Oct. 7 to search a clubhouse used by some of the suspects.
Police searched what was known as the “Greenroom,” in the basement of the Tyrolean Lodge, where Wille lived. The search failed to turn up the weapons, police said.
Information learned since that search has led authorities to believe that one of the suspects tossed the guns down a mine shaft as police started unraveling the case last month. The source wouldn’t say who is believed to have disposed of the guns.
Deputy District Attorney Lawson Wills refused to comment Wednesday on the importance of finding the guns, or the strength or weakness of his cases without that evidence.
“Certainly physical evidence helps” in any case, he said.
Observers of the case predicted that the suspect or suspects who lead police to the guns could be awarded with favorable plea bargains. Several plea deals could be struck before the next scheduled court appearances Nov. 1.
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