Crackdown on Crime - Masked Armed ATM Robbery

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Since October, we've shown you bank surveillance video of a masked man, who police say is part of a trio holding a woman hostage to steal money from her ATM card.

"We learned that three males broke into this victim's home, waited for her until she got home, when she walked in she was thrown to the ground. Two of the masked men produced handguns and kept her there while they seized her purse," said Lake Charles Police Sergeant Mark Kraus.

Kraus says two suspects stayed behind with the victim,while the other got the cash.

The victim's vehicle was found not far from the scene, but it's what investigators found inside that helped them crack the case. "In that vehicle was a mask and some other paraphernalia used in the armed robbery. Our crime scene investigators located at the scene an identical mask - two days prior," explained Sgt. Kraus.

DNA lifted off the masks, along with the call from a Channel 7 viewer, had police take a closer look at Richard Celestine, Jr. Six months after the robbery went down, Crime Lab DNA tests confirmed Celestine was at the scene that night.

"DNA does not lie, it's sometimes millions to one chances that this could not be Celestine. Well, we're going to bet on the million that it is," said Kraus.

Celestine was arrested April 14th charged with armed robbery, theft and imprisonment, but hasn't ratted out his alleged co-conspirators.

"While Celestine sits in jail, his partners in crime need to know that we have not forgotten about this case. We will not forget about this case and the only time that we will put this case to bed is when those three people are all sitting in the Calcasieu Correctional Center and awaiting trial for these horrendous charges," said Kraus.

Celestine is being held on 600-thousand dollars bond. Meanwhile, Detective Richard Harrell is the lead detective on this case. Anyone with information can call the Lake Charles Police Department at 491-1311 or Crimestoppers at 439-2222.