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Three more arrests made in Lansford robbery

  • Ray Ziegenfuss III
    Ray Ziegenfuss III
Published September 23. 2013 05:01PM

Three more people, one from Summit Hill and the others from Lansford, have been arrested in connection with an armed robbery at the Lansford Turkey Hill convenience store in August.

Ray Ziegenfuss III, 19, of 206 W. Front St., Lansford, faces charges from an incident which took place on Aug. 28. Ziegenfuss is charged with criminal conspiracy and tampering with evidence.

Nicole Christman, 19, 220 W. Front St., Lansford, is charged with tampering with evidence, criminal conspiracy, and receiving stolen property.

Alyssa Gryzik, 18, 303 Lansford Court, Summit Hill, is charged with criminal conspiracy and tampering with evidence.

All three were committed to prison under $50,000 straight cash bail.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, here's what happened:

At 2:52 a.m. Aug. 28, Officer Joshua Tom received a call about an armed robbery at the convenience store on Patterson Street. The clerk, Robert Clifford III, identified the two men who robbed him at knifepoint as John A. Simonson, 19, of 220 W. Front St., Lansford, and Scott Heffelfinger, 26, whose last known address was in Lehighton.

Clifford told police the men entered the store and started telling him how badly they needed money. Heffelfinger asked Clifford about a bank bag of money that was sitting in plain view. Heffelfinger asked how much was in the bag. Clifford, not realizing what was to come, told him the bag contained about $150 in cash.

Heffelfinger then pulled a knife, and told Clifford that "this wasn't personal, that they just need the money," and threatened to stab Clifford if he didn't give them the money.

Clifford, in fear for his life, complied. Simonson also grabbed several packs of Marlboro menthol cigarettes as he and Heffelfinger fled the store, say police.

Police quickly chased the two down and arrested them. Upon further investigation, police learned that the robbery was planned out by Heffelfinger, Simonson, Ziegenfuss, Christman, and Gryzik.

All of the defendants admitted to their roles in the planning and preparation of the crime.

Heffelfinger and Simonson agreed to be the ones to actually rob the store. While the two robbed the store, Ziegenfuss, Christman, and Gryzik hung around at 220 W. Front St., Lansford, to await their return.

After holding up the clerk, Heffelfinger and Simonson ran to 220 W. Front, throwing the hoodies they wore during the robbery into the woods along West Snyder Avenue as they ran.

Once at 220 W. Front, Heffelfinger had the money bag and Simonson had the cigarettes. The group divvied up the money, and Ziegenfuss got other clothing for Heffelfinger to change into to avoid matching the description given to police by the clerk.

Heffelfinger told Christman to toss the money bag into a nearby neighbor's yard, as he figured police would first look for it in the woods. Christman obeyed, throwing the bag into the yard at 238 W. Front St. She then hid two knives inside the 220 W. Front St. house, until Ziegenfuss advised her otherwise.

The group instructed Gryzik to be a lookout, and warn them if she spotted police, which she did. She told police she knew about how much money would be in the bag because she worked in the store.

Once the word got out that Heffelfinger and Simonson had been arrested, Ziegenfuss, Christman, Gryzik began concealing and discarding all evidence connected to the robbery. All three took part in getting rid of the money, clothes, and weapons, throwing them into the woods along West Front Street.

The money went missing, however, and none of the group would admit to having gotten their share.

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