Courier Staff Writer
An Oskaloosa man was charged with first-degree robbery on Monday after a local landlord reported being robbed at gunpoint in Ottumwa last week.
The landlord reported he had been robbed of cash and his cell phone around 11:30 a.m. Friday in the 700 block of Ransom Street and that the suspect had fled the scene in a car.
The landlord’s girlfriend sent him to the residence after the suspect had called expressing interest in renting. After speaking with the man and filling out a rental application at the residence, the man went into the bathroom. When he returned, he allegedly pointed a gun at the landlord, demanding his money and cell phone.
The landlord gave the man $800 to $900 from his pocket, as well as a fake $1 million bill and fake $10 million bill and his cell phone. The phone was later discovered in the residence.
The man then got into the car and fled the scene.
After an investigation this weekend, officers charged Curtis Wayne Bunnell, 38, of Oskaloosa, with first-degree robbery, a Class B felony. He is currently being held in Wapello County Jail on $25,000 cash-only bond.
On Friday, neighbors described the car to officers and said another person was in the vehicle while the suspect was inside with the landlord.
“People need to be careful about carrying large amounts of money on their person,” said Lt. Tom McAndrew. “If they do, they need to make sure they’re not showing it when making purchases so people don’t know they have large amounts of cash on them.”
The responding investigator, Aaron Vose, said that based on the circumstances, he believed the “call was made with the intent of drawing [the landlord] to the residence to rob him,” according to the search warrant.
In 2010, Vose helped during a robbery investigation where the landlord was also robbed of the cash on his person. In the search warrant, Vose said the landlord “has been known to carry large amounts of cash on his person.”
During the investigation, McAndrew found a vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle on the downtown camera system. Investigators later found additional photographs of the vehicle on surveillance video from the Kum & Go on Church Street.
“The downtown camera system was an integral part of the investigation,” McAndrew said.
At approximately 1:37 p.m. Sunday, the Ottumwa Police Department was informed by an officer that the suspected vehicle was driving on the highway near Ottumwa Regional Airport.
Ottumwa Police Sgt. Kevin Ward tried to initiate a traffic stop but the vehicle sped away. The vehicle’s appearance and license plate matched the description of the suspect’s vehicle in the case.
Later, officers heard radio traffic from the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office that two subjects were walking on 170th Avenue near Kirkville, which officers found odd since it was a rainy, cold day.
Officers responded to the area, and McAndrew spoke with the caller who had reported the men walking. The men had gone to the caller’s residence to use the phone.
McAndrew saw a white Dodge Neon driving in the area appearing to look for someone. McAndrew told Sgt. Steve Kovacs to stop the car if he saw two additional men inside. While driving up the road, Vose, Kovacs and Wapello County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Layton saw the car back out of a driveway and drive toward them with three people inside. Two lay down, and the officers conducted a felony stop on the vehicle.
Three people were inside: Teresa Bunnell, Kasey Hoyt and Curtis Bunnell.
Curtis Bunnell and Hoyt were ordered outside and handcuffed. Bunnell said he and Hoyt had been walking because his Jeep had broken down nearby.
Hoyt told officers he and Curtis had been in a Camaro in Ottumwa earlier when an officer had attempted a traffic stop on them, after which Curtis allegedly drove the vehicle out of Ottumwa and drove it into some brush nearby.
Shortly after, Bunnell was transported to the jail for other arrest warrants. Hoyt then took McAndrew to the hidden Camaro.
After informing Hoyt that police were looking at Bunnell’s involvement in other cases, Hoyt told Vose that Bunnell had been involved in a robbery and that Bunnell had a black pistol with a red laser on the bottom, matching the description of the gun used in the robbery.
Teresa Bunnell said Curtis Bunnell had arrived the afternoon of the robbery in the Camaro with money for her and her nephew.
Late Sunday, officers executed the search warrant and uncovered the fake $1 million bill, fake $10 million bill, the cash believed to have been stolen during the robbery, a semi-automatic handgun with an attached red laser and other items.