Pennsylvania State Police from Troop K, Media charged a New Garden Township resident in the May 20 robbery and abduction at the Wawa convenience store on Route 1 at Station Way Road in Chadds Ford.

Richard Anthony Phipps, 42, already in Chester County Prison on unrelated drug charges, was arraigned before District Justice Richard Cappelli who remanded Phipps to that facility after ordering him held in custody on the Wawa charges in lieu of $100,000 cash bail. The arraignment was Aug. 23.

Phipps faces 10 felony charges and six counts on four misdemeanor charges. He is accused of kidnapping a store employee and stealing cash and cigarettes during the 5 a.m. robbery.

A preliminary hearing originally scheduled for Aug. 31 was continued until Sept. 21 at 8:30 a.m. in Cappelli's court in Concordville.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Kelly Pearson, Phipps used duct tape to bind two store employees and cover their eyes, threatened them verbally and implied he had a firearm before taking money and merchandise, then abducting the female shift manager as he fled the store.

The affidavit said the two store employees arrived for work about 4 a.m. on May 20. One employee, the shift manager noticed a dark colored Saturn sedan parked on the eastside of Station Way Road just south of the Wawa parking lot. She saw a small Puerto Rican flag displayed from the car's rear view mirror.

The shift manager and the other employee, the assistant store manager, were inside by about 4:05 a.m. to prepare for the 5 a.m. opening.

Shortly before opening, the accused entered the store implying that he had a weapon by "extending his arm and holding something wrapped in a white shirt and yelling," the affidavit said. He shouted at them to lie on the floor and put their hands behind their backs.

The affidavit continued, saying that Phipps then tied their hands behind them with gray duct tape and used the tape to cover their eyes.

When he was unable to open the store safes, Phipps ordered the women shift manager to help him, saying, "I'll put a bullet in your head," according to Pearson's report.

With the coerced assistance, he took more than $3,100 in wrapped currency and coins and more than 100 packs of cigarettes, mostly Marlboro.

The report said Phipps put the money and cigarettes in several of the store's plastic bags and took some to his car. He then returned and demanded that the shift manager carry a bag of money out to his car. He held his arm around her neck as they left the store, the report said.

Phipps then, allegedly, forced her into the car and drove off. They traveled about one-and-a-half miles south on Route 1 before the accused pulled to the right side of the road, slowed down and pushed his captive out of the car and onto the berm of the road without stopping.

The woman was unhurt and able to walk back to the store.

An unidentified customer entering the store after the abduction discovered the crime scene and called 911.

Police investigators interviewed both victims who described the perpetrator as a black male, large build, more than 6' tall, weighing more than 200 pounds and wearing a long sleeve shirt.

A forensics' team took castings of a tire track impression from mud at the crime scene where the suspect's vehicle had been seen. The right rear tire of the car was determined to have made the impression, according to police.

Neighboring police departments were notified to be on the lookout for the dark Saturn. One officer, Chris Wills, from Kennett Square contacted PSP to say he had seen the vehicle in question about 1 a.m. that Saturday at the Wawa in Kennett Square, according to the affidavit. He provided a license plate number that led to an address at Liberty Knoll Apartments in New Garden Township for Phipps.

Wills was also familiar with Phipps and recognized the similarity in the suspect's physical description.

Police interviewed the suspect's girlfriend who said she had found several items matching the description of those stolen from the Wawa -- the cigarettes and rolls of coins -- when she returned home from work at 7:30 Saturday morning.

Wills and New Garden Police officer Keith Cowdright conducted a traffic stop of Phipps' car at the apartment complex at 10:15 p.m. Sunday. According the report, the two officers found Phipps operating the car and that he was in possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. He was arrested on drug charges at that time.

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