Man charged in holiday robbery

Published 10:28 pm Monday, January 4, 2010

A Chesapeake man has been charged in connection with the armed robbery of a Suffolk business on New Year’s Eve.

Willie R. Benthall, 27, of the 600 block of Genevia Avenue in Chesapeake, is accused of robbing the Family Dollar store in the 500 block of East Constance Road on New Year’s Eve, shortly after the store opened.

According to city spokeswoman Debbie George, Benthall allegedly had been loitering outside the store before it opened, and he entered the store when employees unlocked the doors.

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After entering, Benthall allegedly displayed a gun, ordered all of the occupants to the front of the store, took money from the register and fled.

A police officer spotted the man shortly after on Highland Avenue, as the man was removing his clothes in an attempt to look different, George said. The officer chased the suspect across Pinner Street and a ravine, and the man disappeared among a group of warehouses, George said.

A police dog found Benthall on top of a stack of pallets, and also recovered the firearm and the money, George said.

Benthall is charged with four counts of abduction, two counts of robbery, one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count of removing or altering the serial number on a firearm, and six counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

He is being held without bond in Western Tidewater Regional Jail.