Authorities arrest suspect in deadly jewelry store robberies

A man suspected of killing three jewelers during a robbery spree in New York and Connecticut was captured in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, holed up with his girlfriend in a $39-a-night motel room a block from police headquarters, The Associated Press reports.

Christopher DiMeo, 23, surrendered peacefully after heavily armed officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies surrounded the Ascot Motel, where DiMeo and his girlfriend had checked in Thursday, the AP reports.

DiMeo is suspected in the Wednesday slayings of jewelry store owner Timothy Donnelly and his wife Kimberly Ann Donnelly in Fairfield, Conn.

DiMeo is also suspected of killing Thomas Renison and stealing about $100,000 worth of jewelry on Dec. 21 in Glen Head, N.Y. He is also suspected of two other jewelry store robberies, in Westbury on Dec. 5 and in Nanuet on Jan. 26. He allegedly stole nearly $200,000 worth of rings.

In Fairfield, Conn., police reportedly said DiMeo would likely be charged with the Connecticut shootings.

DiMeo hasn’t yet been charged by Fairfield police, although Fairfield Police Chief Joseph Sambrook reportedly said he hoped to have a warrant issued on Saturday. If ballistics from DeMio’s gun match the Connecticut shooting, “I would think it would be a capital felony case,” he told the AP, making it eligible for a death sentence if DeMio is convicted.

“We are thrilled with the job all the police did — New York, Connecticut and New Jersey,” Mike Donnelly, brother of murder victim Timothy Donnelly, reportedly said. Flowers were left Friday in front of the Donnelly store. “Goodbye Tim and Kimberly” was written with a heart on a sidewalk sign nearby.

The couple had been selling jewelry for more than two decades, with a large offering of Celtic items.

“They always talked about one of these days they’re going to make it to Ireland,” friend Maria Regan reportedly said.

Police tracked DiMeo to Atlantic City, where he had apparently arrived on a bus Thursday, the AP reports.

A “BOLO” — police lingo for “be on lookout”—alert was issued to casinos and local police by the state police casino unit. The alert said DiMeo was a known heroin addict and gambler who should be considered “extremely dangerous.”

DiMeo’s girlfriend, reportedly identified by Ascot Motel workers as Nicole Pearce, had paid for the night in Room 203 of the 80-unit Ascot Motel when the couple checked in Thursday morning, according to a front desk worker.

“She came down and was going to pay for another night but someone from the Marshals Service knew she was involved and they took her outside and searched her and took her away,” the worker reportedly told the AP.

Authorities reportedly said the woman was being held Friday night on a fugitive warrant from California, but further details were not immediately available.

The motel is across the street from the Tropicana Casino and Resort and is one block from the city’s Public Safety Building, where New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey was huddling with Atlantic City school officials and representatives of local police and state police on Friday about a recent wave of violence in the city.

New Jersey State Police said there was no evidence DiMeo committed any crimes in Atlantic City. He was being held on a parole violation from New York state, but is suspected in four robberies and three homicides, police reportedly said.

Authorities reportedly said DiMeo is expected to be arraigned Monday in New Jersey Superior Court, but an exact time had not been set.