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Two wanted in state game lands robbery are arrested in Missouri

  • Philip E. Hemminger
    Philip E. Hemminger
Published October 07. 2010 05:00PM

Two New York state men, who were wanted in connection with the armed robbery that occurred outside Tamaqua in Walker Township last weekend, were arrested in Missouri operating the stolen truck of the victim.

State police at Frackville said Philip E. Hemminger, 18, of Black River, and Andrew M. O'Connor, 19, of Carthae, were in custody in Rolla City, Mo., facing charges there, along with the pending charges in Pennsylvania and also in New York.

The two are accused of robbing William Hankey, 32, of Tamaqua, at state game lands in Walker Township, on Saturday, Oct. 2.

According to troopers the incident began about 7:15 p.m. when Hankey exited the game lands, known as Oak Ridge Road, and was placing his hunting equipment into his 2008 Dodge Dakota pickup truck.

He was approached by two males wearing dark clothing and masks and brandishing assault weapons, which they pointed at the victim.

As they approached Hankey he was struck in the head by the stock of one of the weapons, and then hit a second time which caused him to fall to the ground. While on the ground the two suspects struck and kicked Hankey numerous times and demanded the keys to his truck. Hankey gave the keys to the truck. The suspects also took his cellular phone.

Hankey fled the scene back into the woods where he feared for his life. He stayed in the woods all night and exited about 5 a.m. and sought medical attention.

Troopers were called to St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, where Hankey was being given medical treatment and told of the incident.

Troopers said in a related matter on Saturday, they were called to a vehicle fire in the same area of the assault involving a 1998 Ford Ranger pickup truck. Through an investigation it was learned the truck was registered to a P.E. Hemminger of Black River, N.Y. It was also determined the truck was deliberately set on fire.

Troopers contacted police in Watertown, N.Y., and learned that the truck was believed to be used by two suspects who committed a burglary at a sporting goods store in that community. Taken in the burglary were several rifles including assault weapons. Also, police in Watertown told state troopers that Hemminger and O'Connor were suspects in the burglary and were being sought.

Watertown police also identified the truck the suspects were believed using as a Ford Ranger with New York state registration.

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, Frackville troopers received a call from Rolla City police stating they had the two suspects in custody and that they were operating Hankey's truck, which had the license plate for the Ford Ranger on it.

Rolla City police said the two were arrested when they attempted to pawn/sell weapons that were stolen in Watertown. During the course of the probe in Rolla City, police found items belonging to Hankey in the possession of the two suspects.

Troopers have obtained criminal warrants for the two from the office of District Judge James Ferrier, of Orwigsburg, charging them with robbery, criminal conspiracy-robbery, aggravated assault, robbery of a motor vehicle, theft by unlawful taking, arson and related offenses, simple assault and terroristic threats.

Trooper Edward Luzewski is the lead prosecutor in the case and has been assisted in the probe by Troopers Mario Pompei and John Burns, fire marshal, and Cpl. Jeffrey Szczezina, criminal investigation unit, of the Frackville barracks.

A detainer has been filed against the two with Missouri authorities pending disposition of charges in that state.

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