UPDATE: Robbers took shower, cooked pizza while ransacking elder - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Robbers who showered, cooked pizza while ransacking elderly man's home are arrested

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Three robbers accused of tying up a Niota man with an electrical cord while they ransacked his home are now in custody.

Officers arrested the suspects around 3:30 Wednesday morning at a motel in northwest Arkansas.

Charles Ridenour, 74, said the suspects bound him with duct tape inside his own home, stole his belongings, and even cooked a pizza while he was tied up. He's relieved to hear they were caught.

"I'm relieved for my dad's safety, and relieved they won't be able to hurt anyone else," said Eddie Ridenour.

He's thankful the three people accused of robbing his dad are behind bars. Police say Charlene Hayes, James Wagner and Jeffrey Mounts were on the run for two weeks and headed to Texas in the elderly man's stolen truck.

"I was happy," Charles said Wednesday after learning the trio was arrested.

The 74-year-old said he knew Wagner for 20 years. Wagner asked him for a place all 3 of the suspects could stay, but Ridenour said they never left.

"Six months later, I was still trying to get them out," he said.

That's when police say the group tied him up with a vacuum cord, threatened him with a machete, took showers and cooked pizza while ransacking the home.

"I intended not to let them run me out of my home."

Detectives traced Ridenour's stolen credit card to Owensboro, Kentucky. McMinn County Detective Blake Witt worked with police in three states in an effort to track them down. But the break happened at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning at a motel in Siloam Springs, Ark. near the Oklahoma state line.

"It's just a small motel, they (police) said they've had problems out of there before, went through, and got lucky," Witt said.

Mounts was outside the motel. When he saw police roll up, he took off. Wagner was found laying on the ground behind the building and Hayes was hiding inside the motel room.

Police saw the group was wanted for robbery and kidnapping in McMinn County and took them into custody.

"It's good to know we got some bad guys off the street," said Witt. "It could've been a lot worse, especially for the victim."

"My dad's a kind person, and would help anyone out," Eddie said. "I still believe in helping others, but be careful."

Mounts' bond is set at $117,000. Both Wagner's and Hayes' bonds are set at $74,000. All three are facing felony charges in both states and awaiting extradition to McMinn County.

UPDATE (10/8/14):  
Three people accused of tying up a Niota man and cooking pizzas while robbing him have been captured. Around 3:30 a.m. in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, police officers found the 3 suspects and took them into custody and recovered the stolen truck. The three were staying at a motel in a town bordering Oklahoma.

The suspects are facing several charges in Arkansas; possession of a stolen vehicle and gun charges.  They will face those charges before being extradited back to Tennessee.  

UPDATE (10/2/14):  A 74-year-old Niota man said he was bound with duct tape and a vacuum cord as robbers, toting a machete, took showers and even made a pizza while ransacking his home. McMinn County Sheriff's Office is looking for three suspects considered armed and extremely dangerous.

"They tied me up in my bed and just helped themselves to whatever they wanted," said Charles Ridenour Sr.

Ridenour was feeling generous as he drove back from his sister's funeral last week. He said three people he stopped to offer a ride attacked him at his home on County Road 231 in McMinn County.

"They had my arms tied so tight. It was hurting me and cutting off circulation," he said.

Police said Charlene Hayes, James Wagner and Jeffrey Mounts tied him up with duct tape and a vacuum cord, threw him on his bed and began ransacking his home.

The suspects even used a machete, threatening to kill Ridenour if he didn't give up his bank card -- and then took off in his truck.

The 74-year-old eventually freed his legs and made it to his neighbor's house to call 911.

"That's what I was banking on," said Ridenour, "being able to get loose if they ever left."

"Basically, while he laid there with duct tape over his mouth, wrists, legs, and electrical cord around him, they started burglarizing the house... and actually cooked food and showered in the residence while he was tied up," said McMinn County Sgt. Blake Witt.

Witt said Ridenour knew his attackers. After giving them a ride, he was offering them a place to stay.

"Being a veteran and basically just living his life, he was just a victim of a horrible crime," Witt said.

Mounts is currently on parole out of West Virginia. Bank records show Ridenour's stolen credit card used in several places across state lines. The last transaction was in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Witt is working with police in both states, trying to track down the trio that is considered armed and extremely dangerous.

"They know they're wanted, and they're gonna try to hide as best as they can," he said.

Anyone with information on the suspects' whereabouts is asked to call the McMinn County Sheriff's Office Detective Blake Witt at (423) 745-5620.


The McMinn County Sheriff's Office is searching for three suspects wanted for aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, theft of motor vehicle, and theft of property.

Around 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 24th, the three suspects Charlene Hayes, James Wagner, and Jeffrey Mounts visited the victim, Charles Ridenour, Sr at his home on County Road 231 in McMinn County. 

Mr. Ridenour told deputies a few moments after arriving Wagner grabbed him from behind and wrapped him up with an electrical cord then duct taped his wrists, legs and mouth.   He said they threw him on the bed and he laid there while they loaded up items out of his residence then took off in his truck. He told deputies that a machete knife was brandished during the altercation. 

After the suspects left, Ridenour was able to escape and went next door to call 911.  

Surveillance video shows the suspects stopped at the Kangaroo gas station on Highway 68 in McMinn County before getting on Interstate 75.

The credit card that was stolen from the victim was used in McMinn County and several places in Kentucky. The last known location of the suspects was in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Mounts has ties to Huntington West Virginia.

The three are to be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

The stolen truck is a clack 1998 Nissan Frontier with TN Tag S5573K 

If you have information on the whereabouts of the suspects please call the McMinn County Sheriff's Office and ask for Detective Blake Witt: 423-745-5620.

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