Man arrested in WRJ bank robbery
Correspondent | January 19,2013
By ERIC FRANCIS
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A suspect has been arrested in the holdup of the People’s United Bank branch here last week. Police said they expect to make another arrest soon.
Hartford Police said John Fenley, 50, of White River Junction, was picked up at 8 p.m. Friday outside his trailer in the Chamber’s trailer park off Sykes Mountain Avenue, close to the downtown area. He went voluntarily to the police station where he was arrested on a felony count of armed robbery later in the evening after questioning, police said.
Earlier in the day, police had seized Fenley’s vehicle. They said they believed it to be the blue Chevy pickup a witness described as the getaway vehicle moments after a bank robbery took place at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Several hundred dollars of stolen money from the bank was seized from Fenley’s possession,” Hartford Detective
Michael Tkac wrote in a statement. “A search warrant was executed at Fenley’s home, where over $2,000 in stolen money was seized (along with) clothing that matched the clothing worn by the bank robber.”
Police said the robber implied he had a gun but did not display one during his brief interaction with a female teller inside the bank at 190 Maple St. Witness Michael Trombley of White River Junction said he passed the robber in the driveway of the bank moments after the man ran out the front door wearing a bright orange-red knit cap and long blond hair that was apparently a wig.
“He nodded and said, ‘How’s it going?’ as he ran past me,” Trombley recalled.
Trombley said the robber ran down a small wooded embankment before jumping into the blue pickup in the driveway of an empty house on Bridge Street, directly opposite the Hartford Municipal Building. Trombley told police he heard the robber yell “Go! Go! Go!” before it sped off, leading him to believe a getaway driver was waiting.
Another White River Junction resident, who asked not to be identified, said that just a few minutes before the robbery took place his attention had been drawn to a blue Chevy pickup that had pulled off beside Route 14 about a block from the bank.
The resident watched as the driver, who had what appeared to be a bright red hat sitting on the dashboard of his pickup, got out and carefully packed handfuls of snow over his license plates.
“I was thinking to myself that his registration must have expired and he was trying to hide that,” the resident recalled Saturday.
Hartford officers went back later Thursday afternoon and found the spot the truck had pulled off, and took pictures of tire tracks in the snow.
Police said the People’s United robber had also walked into the Mascoma Bank branch on Sykes Mountain Avenue, less than a quarter-mile from Fenley’s trailer, Thursday afternoon.
The man briefly looked around before departing without incident, police said. The People’s United robbery took place a few minutes later.
Fenley is being held at the Springfield prison for lack of $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon at the criminal court in White River Junction, which sits within sight of the People’s United Bank.
Fenley has had previous run-ins with the law, including a September 2010 arrest for second-degree unlawful restraint and a domestic assault charge. According to court records, his girlfriend at the time told police: “He burned me (and) he also threw me against the chest in the spare bedroom.”
The woman wrote in her sworn statement that she thought drugs were to blame for what she described as Fenley’s allegedly increasingly violent behavior.
“I just want him to get help,” she wrote in 2010. “He was a good person until (another local woman) got him hooked on whatever.”