Suspect arrested in Fifth Third Bank robbery
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston police are happy to have the man accused of robbing the Fifth Third Bank in Kanawha City last week off the streets.
They arrested Joseph Pike Dempsey, 31, of King Street in South Charleston, on Tuesday on felony charges of robbery for allegedly holding up the Kanawha City Bank during what officers have called a brazen daytime robbery.
"We're glad to get him," Charleston Police Sgt. Bobby Eggleton said. "We think he has problems."
Dempsey was already in the South Central Regional Jail for multiple unrelated charges stemming from an altercation in South Charleston last Friday night, the day after the bank robbery.
He is accused of entering the bank about 10 a.m. Thursday and brandishing what officers then believed was a handgun. They now believe Dempsey robbed the bank with a pellet gun, according to the criminal complaint on file in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.
He allegedly forced the bank tellers on the floor before going behind the bank counter and taking an undisclosed amount of cash.
"Bank takeovers are very uncommon and quite frightening," Eggleton said. "They usually just pass a note."
Eggleton, Charleston's assistant chief of detectives, said officers believe the bank robbery was drug related.
"He has a history of drug use," Eggleton said. "We've been told by people that he uses pain medication."
Dempsey appeared before Kanawha County Magistrate Julie Yeager for his arraignment on Tuesday. Yeager set his bond at $150,000 cash.
He sat with his hands cuffed behind his back and his head down except when answering the magistrate's questions.
The bank robber was originally described as tall, lanky and unshaven.
Dempsey is tall and skinny with a beard.
South Charleston police arrested him Friday on charges of felony assault on an officer, battery, obstructing an officer and destruction of property. All stemmed from an altercation with a neighbor. During the investigation, officers found evidence that led them to believe he was also involved in the bank robbery, Eggleton said.
According to that criminal complaint, Dempsey was walking his dogs along a street in South Charleston when his neighbor passed him in a car.
He began shouting at the car, accusing the driver of speeding. That prompted the neighbor, who has not been identified, to get out of the car with another person.
Dempsey then allegedly punched one of the individuals in the face and pulled what they believed to be a semi-automatic gun, according to the complaint.
He also allegedly swung a large stick at one of the individuals and then smashed the side-view mirror on the car.
When Dempsey returned to his home, the victims called the police. Police found him in the home. When questioned, Dempsey at first denied being involved in the incident but eventually confirmed the victims' accounts.
Officers obtained Dempsey's permission to search the house for the handgun. They found the weapon - actually a pellet gun - at the base of the stairs.
After the discovery, Dempsey was placed under arrest for battery, but he resisted, refusing to walk and yelling for help, officers said.
He kicked an officer in the groin and was placed on the ground but continued to resist.
Officers sprayed a short burst of pepper spray into his face and then used a Taser to subdue the unrelenting man, according to the complaint. When he finally stopped resisting, he was taken to the police station, where officers noticed he resembled the description of the suspect in the bank robbery.
Charleston officers were contacted and sent a detective to South Charleston to look at the pellet gun, which was similar to that described by victims at the bank. They obtained a search warrant for Dempsey's house and found shoes and jeans that matched the description of what the bank robber wore.
They also found that the serial number of a magazine that fell out of the gun at the bank matched the number on the magazine in the pellet gun found at Dempsey's residence, according to the criminal complaint.
On Monday, a photo array was shown to a witness at the bank who saw the suspect's face as he fled the scene. That person later identified Dempsey as the robber.
Dempsey also has been charged with possession and cultivation of marijuana during an unrelated search of his house on June 9 when South Charleston and Charleston officers found five marijuana plants, bags of potting soil and a container of Miracle-Gro in his home.
Dempsey's preliminary hearings on the cultivation, felony assault on an officer, battery, obstructing an officer and destruction of property will be June 18.
The preliminary hearing on the robbery charge will be June 21.