Off-duty police officer in Mesquite nabs 2 suspects allegedly involved in robbery in Santa Clara

Mesquite Police Department vehicle, Mesquite, Nev., Aug. 9, 2016 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two individuals suspected of committing a robbery in Santa Clara were arrested in Mesquite, Nevada Monday after both were found in a U-Haul truck by an off-duty police officer.

Jerry Michael Davies, 46, of Grand Junction, Colorado, and 29-year-old Virginia Mae Wibbens, of St. George, were arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia during an incident in Mesquite, Nevada on Monday. 

Davies also faces one felony count of possession of false identification.

The arrest in Nevada stems from an incident that took place shortly before 8:30 p.m. in Santa Clara Sunday night when officers responded to a gas station on an alarm activation, Santa Clara-Ivins Police Sgt. Reed Briggs told St. George News.

Officers arrived and spoke to the station attendant who told police she received a call from a man who told her an emergency audit was being conducted by corporate and instructed her to empty the register and hand the money over to a woman who entered the store seconds later.

The employee told officers she believed that call was legitimate at first, being that the man had an air of authority and information relating to the gas station, but once the woman entered, the employee “knew something was off” and hesitated before handing over the money, Briggs said.

Jerry Michael Davies, 46, of Grand Junction, Colorado, booking photo taken in Clark County, Nev., Sept. 14, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Mesquite Police Department, St. George News

The employee hit the panic button and continued to delay in handing over the money, which is when the man on the phone allegedly “threatened to shoot her if she failed to follow his instructions,” Briggs said. She handed the cash over to the woman who then left the store.

Officers arrived within minutes of the alarm activation, and as they processed the scene, Briggs said, a “be on the lookout” was broadcast to officers in Washington County and surrounding agencies, including officers in Mesquite.

The following morning, Mesquite Police Sgt. Wyatt Oliver said an off-duty police officer, who had worked the night before and heard the broadcast, spotted the U-Haul and noted that the driver matched the woman’s description as relayed in the alert. He contacted the department and arranged to have an on-duty officer respond to where the truck was parked.

Officers arrived and detained the suspects while the scene was being processed, which is when they found key pieces of evidence potentially linked to the incident in Utah, as well as methamphetamine, heroin and drug paraphernalia recovered from inside the truck. 

Meanwhile, detectives in Santa Clara were notified of the arrest and responded to Mesquite as the scene was being processed. They retrieved the evidence collected at that point, and once they returned to Utah, Briggs said, they began working with the Washington County Attorney’s Office to file the arrest warrants needed to transport the suspects to Washington County.

“We can’t just go down to Mesquite and arrest them without the proper authority to do so,” Briggs said.

The U-Haul was towed to a secure facility in Mesquite where it can be processed for evidence and then returned to its rightful owner, Oliver said.

Virginia Mae Wibbens, 29, of St. George, booking photo taken in Clark County, Nev., Sept. 14, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Mesquite Police Department, St. George News

The suspects were arrested and transported to the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, where each face multiple charges in Nevada, as listed in this report.

Briggs said the investigation into the incident is ongoing, and the suspects may have been involved in similar incidents in both Washington and Iron Counties.

With the ongoing investigation, Briggs said, and the possibility there may be other incidents connected to the couple, no charges or arrest warrants have been filed in Washington County at this point.

“We don’t have all of the information yet,” Briggs said. “Since it appears there may be more involved than the incident here in Santa Clara.”

He added that once the investigation progresses to the point that arrest warrants can be obtained and arrangements are made with authorities in Nevada, the two suspects will likely be returned to Utah to face charges here.

The ability for agencies to work together, such as was the case during this incident, Oliver said, combined with the proactive policing on the part of the off-duty officer, made for a successful arrest. More importantly, he said, these suspects were taken off the street and are no longer free to engage in further criminal activity in either state.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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