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UPDATE: Four Charged in Robbing, Beating of Elderly Man

WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Four people have been charged in connection with the robbery and severe beating of an elderly man.
UPDATE: 

WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Melissa A. Winkle, 34, of Crocker, is charged with possession of burglary tools in connection with the robbery and beating of an elderly man on July 25.

She is in the Pulaski County Jail under a $30,000 cash or surety bond.


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WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Three people have been charged and more details have been released in connection with the robbery and severe beating of an elderly man last Friday.

According to the Pulaski County Circuit Court, Thomas Ernest York Jr., 34, of St. Robert, Roby Sapere, 57, of Richland, and Jessica Anne Berry, 24, of Dixon have all been charged in the case as of Tuesday (July 29) afternoon.

Berry, Sapere and York are all facing felony charges in connection with the robbery and assault incident deputies responded to at a home on 19865 Highway T on July 25.

According to court documents, when deputies arrived to the home, they heard a man screaming for help inside. Deputies say they entered the home and found the resident, Robert Willhite, 82, lying on the floor with his hands bound to his feet with duct tape.

According to deputies, Willhite was severely beaten to a point where his eyes were swollen shut, blood and several marks covered his face.

Willhite was flown to a trauma center where he remains in critical condition as of Tuesday afternoon.

Deputies say several collectable coins valued at around $5,000, along with two AR-15 assault rifles valued at $3,000 were stolen in the incident.

A few days later, on July 28, deputies were approached by Jessie and Cheryl Berry who said their daughter, Jessica Berry, came home with several silver coins.

When her parents confronted her about the coins, Berry told them “something bad had happened,” according to a probable cause statement. Berry continued to tell her parents that her, along with a man, were lookouts during the time Willhite’s home was robbed.

Deputies went to the Berry residence to speak to Jessica Berry and she eventually led them to the coins, which were hidden in luggage on the front porch.

Before deputies left the home, Berry’s father gave them a revolver, which he says was given to him by Jessica Berry for Father’s Day. Deputies checked the serial number on the revolver and discovered it was stolen from Osage County.

Berry later admitted to deputies she was given the revolver to sell and when she couldn’t sell it, she gave it to her father. She said she knew the gun was stolen.

While talking to deputies, Berry said Roby Sapere drove her to the Willhite residence and pointed it out to her. According to Berry, Sapere later called her and said another man involved in the robbery “went too far by tying the old man up with duct tape.” Sapere told Berry every time Willhite moved or made a sound, he was hit.

Thomas York was arrested in connection with the robbery after deputies found a Kobalt pry bar inside Willhite’s home. Deputies checked the bar code and found it was purchased at Lowe’s on July 24 around 5:30 p.m.

Deputies received a copy of surveillance footage for that time and identified York as the buyer.

According to a probable cause statement, Berry’s mother also told deputies that Jessica Berry got a phone call saying York, along with two other men, severely beat and robbed an elderly man.

After York was arrested, he told deputies he bought a can of primer on July 25 at Lowe’s, but never a crow bar.

Berry is facing two felony charges of receiving stolen property. She is currently being held in the Pulaski County Jail under a $500,000 cash-only bond.

York has been charged with first-degree assault resulting in serious physical injury, first-degree burglary, felonious restraint, two counts of theft/stealing of a firearm, and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. He is in the Pulaski County Jail under a $1 million cash-only bond.

Sapere has been charged with first-degree assault and first-degree burglary. He is also being held in the Pulaski County Jail under a $1 million cash-only bond.

According to Sheriff Ron Long, five people were taken into custody in connection with the incident. At this time, additional charges are expected.

A news conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 30 to discuss information in the case.

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