Armed robbery suspects arrested

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, February 2, 2017

BELHAVEN — Two suspects who broke into an elderly woman’s home and robbed her at gunpoint have been arrested.

Michael David Respess, 20, and Joshua Scott Carpenter, 19, both of Pantego, have been charged with first-degree burglary and robbery with a dangerous weapon. They were arrested yesterday.

The incident occurred Tuesday evening on Dallas Paul Road in Belhaven. According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, the 78-year-old homeowner reported a young man wearing a mask, gloves and wielding an AK47 rifle entered her home, showed the gun and demanded money.

“In essence, what it was, was a guy goes then makes a statement to the victim that one of her relatives owes him money,” said Chief Deputy Charlie Rose. “They thought she kept a lot of cash on hand and that wasn’t the case, but that was the thought — that was what they were going for.”

When investigators arrived at the Belhaven home, the victim was able to describe the clothes the suspect was wearing, as well as the vehicle used to flee the scene, the press release stated. Thirty minutes after investigators wrapped up their interview of the victim, the county’s 911 communications center received a call reporting a car crash on N.C. Highway 32 North, in which the caller reported the white male driver involved in the accident got out of the vehicle with two guns in hand, got into another vehicle and left the scene, the release stated.

Deputies, N.C. Highway Patrol troopers and volunteers with Pinetown Fire and EMS responded to the accident scene, and deputies not only found the car matched the description of the vehicle use in the robbery, but the rifle used in the robbery. During investigation, Respess also returned to the scene, was taken into custody by troopers and charged with Driving While Impaired, the release stated.

Rose said investigators were still unclear as to why Respess returned to the scene of the accident.

“We’re actually still trying to figure some of that out. The best guess is that they were actually hoping to get back to the vehicle — they came back with a four-wheel-drive vehicle — hoping they could get the vehicle out and remove it before anyone knew about it.”

After a later interview, Respess was charged for the robbery and his accomplice was identified as Carpenter, according to officials. Carpenter was arrested the next night at a residence in Washington. Both men were held in the Beaufort County Detention Center under $75,000 secured bonds.