The man charged with the shocking killings of three jewelers during a string of robberies in December and February could face the death penalty, authorities said.
The murders in New York and Connecticut were reported nationally and as far away as India. The Jewelers Security Alliance said there was a sharp increase in subscriptions to its newsletter and people accessing its Web site (www.jewelerssecurity.org).
Christopher DiMeo, 23, is accused of shooting Timothy and Kimberly Donnelly during a Feb. 2 robbery of their jewelry store in Fairfield, Conn. He was also charged with the Dec. 21 murder of jeweler Thomas Renison while robbing J&J Jewels in Glen Head, N.Y.
DiMeo’s girlfriend, Nicole Pearce, 23, and mother, Maryann Taylor-Casey, 40, face charges as accomplices in the crimes. All three are being held without bail after pleading not guilty. A decision on whether to seek the death penalty won’t be made for some time, prosecutors told reporters.
According to authorities, DiMeo, a Glen Head, N.Y., native who had served time for a 2001 robbery, stole his grandparents’ car and drove with Pearce to New York in October. There, authorities charge, they burglarized homes in New York and Connecticut and held up stores in Brooklyn, N.Y., in November; and starting in December, they began robbing jewelers, including stores in Westbury, N.Y., and Nanuet, N.Y.
Published reports said a total of about $300,000 worth of jewelry was taken during the robberies. The automatic handgun purportedly used in the robberies and murders was stolen from a nightstand in one of the burglarized houses.
Police said Pearce would go into a store posed as a customer, check its layout, staffing, and security, and later give the information and roughly drawn floor maps to DiMeo. It is believed that DiMeo would go in afterward and pretend to look for an engagement ring. After looking at various rings and chatting with employees for up to an hour, he would pull his gun, announce the robbery, and make off with enough jewelry to pay for several weeks of heroin, authorities charge.
Following the robbery and murder of the Donnellys, police contend the pair abandoned the car stolen from DiMeo’s grandparents, pawned some stolen jewelry to buy heroin, and took a casino shuttle bus to Atlantic City, N.J.
The pair was captured following a tip to police in an Atlantic City, N.J., motel only a block from police headquarters. Pearce was arrested when she went to pay for another night in the room. DiMeo initially barricaded himself in the room, but after an hour surrendered to heavily armed officers from local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies when police agreed to let him smoke a cigarette before being taken into custody.
Police accuse Taylor-Casey of helping DiMeo case Renison’s store and driving the getaway car following the robbery and murder.
The funeral for the Donnellys—attended by hundreds—took place in Bridgeport, Conn., the same day DiMeo was arraigned in New Jersey.