COVINGTON, GA (CBS46) – Police in Tennessee have arrested a pair accused of killing a 65-year-old woman after they robbed her outside the Covington Walmart last week.
Marsha Johnson was killed Nov. 16 after a man snatched her purse and then ran over her multiple times as he made his escape. A woman was in the passenger seat of the suspect’s car, police said.
During a press conference Sunday morning, Covington Police Captain Craig Treadwell said Brandon Shawn Smith, 27, and Stephanie Marie Rodriguez, 37, were arrested in Manchester Tennessee. Authorities said they were driving the same Honda Accord they used when they killed Johnson.
Surveillance video showed the man watching Johnson as she put away her grocery cart and went back toward her vehicle.
As Johnson tried to get into her vehicle, the suspect walked behind her and tried to grab her purse, the video showed. At first, Johnson didn’t let go of her purse. The suspect pulls her to the ground, snatches the purse and jumped in his car.
“She ended up behind the car,” said Treadwell. “He backed out, and when he pulled forward, she ended up back underneath the car. He couldn’t get the car all the way out, so he ended up being on top of the victim with the vehicle three or four times.”
Police say the vehicle had been stolen in Virginia.
In addition to Johnson’s death, Treadwell believes the pair is responsible for a string of purse-snatching cases that stretch from Virginia to Florida.
CBS46 News talked with Marsha Johnson’s grandson, Cain Johnson. He says he can’t believe anyone would do such a thing.
“They’re pathetic,” says Cain Johnson. “Going around robbing an older woman for just a few bucks. They’re cowards.”
Treadwell says the two suspects, who were on the run for five days, could be responsible for up to 10 purse snatchings and robberies throughout the Southeast.
The pair have been charged with felony murder in Johnson’s death. They could be brought back to Georgia as early as Monday to face those charges.
Authorities are asking media outlets to refrain from using photos of the suspects. They want to use them in photo lineups in the other cases.