Suspects charged with two home invasions

Published 4:18 pm Friday, May 20, 2016

Two recent home invasions troubled Beaufort County Sheriff Ernie Coleman to the point he took an unusual step — pulling his criminal investigators and narcotics investigators off other cases and letting them work solely on the home invasions — a step that resulted in arrests.

Three Wake County men are charged with crimes related to home invasions in Beaufort County earlier this month.

Dominic Jay Robinson, 33, of Wendell; Willie Roy Garcia Rojas, 25, and Wenseslao Garcia Rojas Jr., 26, both of Zebulon, were arrested Thursday. Each was charged with two counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of felonious restraint and two counts of felony conspiracy, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. Willie Rojas and Robinson were confined in Johnston County, each under a $1 million secured bond. Wenseslao Rojas was arrested in Wake County, where he was charged by Zebulon police with possession of cocaine. He was confined in Wake County under a $2 million secured bond.

“It has lot to do with persistence and getting on it 24/7, but it also has to do with luck. We’ve got a little luck involved,” Coleman said Friday about the arrests.

“My office worked around the clock, working through leads, however likely or unlikely they were to lead to an arrest. … Although the investigation is ongoing and more arrests may come in the near future, I am pleased to report this,” Coleman wrote in statement about the arrests issued Friday afternoon.

Investigators followed up on about 20 tips, Coleman said later.

The charges, except for the possession of cocaine charge, are the result of two separate home-invasion robberies, one on U.S. Highway 17 (North) in Washington and the other on Possum Hill Road in Bath. In total, there were three victims, all asleep when the suspects entered their homes, forced the victims to open their safes, tied up the victims and took guns, money, jewelry and electronics.

On Thursday morning, investigators with the sheriff’s office received a tip from the Zebulon Police Department that the Rojas brothers had been observed attempting to sell guns stolen during the robberies, according to the sheriff’s office. The tip included enough information so investigators could obtain arrest warrants and a search warrant for the Rojas brothers’ residence in Zebulon. Narcotics investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, went to Zebulon and set up a surveillance operation on the residence.

Several hours later, personnel with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office and Zebulon Police Department, arrested the Rojas brothers. After interviewing the brothers, investigators developed probable cause to arrest Robinson.

Assisted by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Beaufort County investigators searched the Rojas residence in N.C. Highway 39 and recovered items stolen from the home-invasion victims and other physical evidence linking the suspects to the robberies. Investigators will continue to follow up on leads in this case as they try to locate more of the stolen property. More arrests are possible, according to a press release issued by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

Coleman said one of the suspects may have had or has a girlfriend in the area, which could have been a factor in the Wake County men deciding to commit crimes in the area. “I still feel before the investigation is over we may have some more arrest, maybe locally in this area for conspiracy,” Coleman said.

Similarities between the two home invasions indicated the same people committed them, Coleman said. “They things they did, it’s like they knew the people, calling them by names and different stuff that we said this may be local people,” he said. As for why the suspects targeted the two homes, “we’ll figure that out through interviews and other stuff,” he said.

“We’re pretty solid — I’m very solid — that these three individuals we have are actually the ones that went into the houses,” Coleman said.

Other law-enforcement agencies are looking into the possibility the three suspects could be involved in similar crimes in their jurisdictions, Coleman said. “These are some bad people,” he said.

Coleman said he was worried another home invasion would occur this weekend and that someone could get killed if the home invasions continued. He believes the suspects would have continued their “rampage” if they had not been arrested and jailed.

“I don’t think they would have stopped. They would not have stopped until they got caught, like they have,” Coleman said.

Coleman explained his reasoning for focusing his office’s resources on the home invasions: “I look at a home invasion as right on up there close behind murder and rape because you’re talking about somebody in their home, their kingdom, their castle violated, waking them up in the middle of night, tying them up. That’s your freedom. That’s your rights.”







About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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