Originally created 05/08/02

Elusive robbery suspect arrested



An elusive suspect wanted in a recent rash of convenience store hold-ups and the shooting of a Partridge Inn manager was captured in South Carolina Tuesday after a standoff with police.

Craig Pilcher, 31, of Augusta, was being held today in Scotland County, N.C., according to Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry. The major said his office got a call from Scotland County authorities Tuesday night, saying Mr. Pilcher and a woman had robbed hotels in Florence, S.C., and Scotland County, N.C., before their capture Tuesday.

Mr. Pilcher allegedly robbed a car salesman Tuesday in Scotland County but was later cornered in Marlboro County, S.C. Police say he was caught in a patch of woods after crossing into South Carolina, where he pointed a gun at his head but surrendered after talking to a police negotiator.

A woman identified as Teresa Crawford, 26, of Cairo, Ga., also was being held in a Scotland County jail, Maj. Autry said. She had originally given police the name of Jessica Lynn Stanley, he said.

In Richmond County, warrants have been issued charging the pair in Thursday's robbery of the Circle K on Wheeler Road. Mr. Pilcher also is charged in the April 30 robbery of the Circle K on Furys Ferry Road.

Mr. Pilcher, who was paroled from a Georgia prison in June, also is suspected in the May 1 robbery at the Amoco Food Store on Skinner Mill Road and the April 30 holdup at Bryant's Texaco on Washington Road.

In addition, police suspect him in the robbery and shooting of Partridge Inn manager Herman Duncan. The night manager was shot in the back at 3 a.m. April 28 after being robbed of his wallet in the hotel's parking deck.

"We have evidence that ties him to these incidents, but we have not got warrants yet," Maj. Autry said. "We still need to gather more evidence before charging him."

On Tuesday night, Richmond County authorities went to the Adams Super Inn on Gordon Highway and found evidence the pair had been staying there until Thursday.

"They found out we were doing some investigating at that hotel and they just grabbed what they could, jumped in the car and left town without being able to gather their belongings," Maj. Autry said.

A Richmond County investigator is expected to travel to Scotland County to work with officials there on gathering evidence about the pair's alleged three-state crime spree, Maj. Autry said.

The major said the two suspects have crack habits that appear to have motivated the robberies. Both have significant criminal histories.

Mr. Pilcher has served time for burglary, theft and possession of marijuana, opiates and cocaine. Ms. Crawford has served time in Georgia for forgery, burglary and bad checks. She also is wanted for a robbery in Tallahassee, Fla., Maj. Autry said.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.