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Pair questioned in bank robbery

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

Two persons of “strong interest” are being questioned in connection with three bank robberies over the past two weeks, including the latest Wednesday at the East Brewton branch of BankTrust.
East Brewton Police Chief Kenny Brazile said a man and woman who fit the descriptions of the suspects involved in the bank robberies were arrested in a Destin, Fla., motel Thursday night.
The suspects, Rhianna Marie Jones and Jerry Hover Tinsley, both 30, were being questioned Friday by federal law enforcement officials as well as Alabama and Florida police.
While Brazile was cautious about connecting the pair to the three robberies, Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole said the couple confessed to the Florala crime.
The pair was taken into custody by officers with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department just before midnight following a high-speed chase, according to sheriff’s reports.
Jones had no listed address other than an “at-large” in the Ft. Walton area. Tinsley’s last known address was reported as Poplar Creek Lane in Rutherfordton, N.C.
In the arrest report, Okaloosa Deputy Todd Watkins said the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Warrants Unit was assisting the FBI Mobile office in locating two suspects in the three bank robberies in Alabama. The suspects had been identified as Tinsley and Jones.
The couple was seen leaving the parking lot of the Destin, Fla., motel in a vehicle that closely fit the description of a vehicle seen fleeing the scene of the robbery in East Brewton Wednesday.
Officers attempted to stop the couple in the parking lot, but they sped off in their gold 2004 Chevrolet Impala. Watkins said he chased the pair through several areas of Destin at speeds over 80 mph before the couple stopped on a dead-end street a
Tinsley was charged with a felony county of fleeing/eluding police and fleeing/eluding law enforcement officer at high speed, one count of first degree resisting an officer and obstruction without violence, and a third-degree felony charge of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
Jones was charged with resisting an officer and obstruction without violence.
Wednesday’s East Brewton bank robbery was reported to be similar to one in Flomaton on March 8 and in Florala on March 4. In each robbery, a man and woman approached a teller with hand-written notes demanding money.
Debbie Hardee, security officer for BankTrust, said the teller who was given the note by the robbers acted according to training.
As for the Florala bank robbery, Bedsole said he plans to charge the couple with second-degree robbery.