WARRENTON - One man was in custody and police were searching for another in separate armed robberies last Friday in Warren County.
The first robbery happened about 1:15 p.m. at the Jewell Post Office, located off Georgia Highway 16, about eight miles south of Warrenton. Warren County Sheriff Joe Peebles said a man walked in wearing a handkerchief as a mask and was armed with a knife.
Late Tuesday, Dennis L. Ficklin, 41, of Warrenton, was in the McDuffie County jail after turning himself in. He is charged with robbery by force, kidnapping and false imprisonment, accoridng to Pat Morgan, Assistant Agent in Charge of the Thomson office of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Federal charges could be pending since the robbery occurred at a post office.
Mr. Ficklin, according to the sheriff, recently was paroled on a drug conviction.
According to investigators, the man tied the female postmaster up with postal tape and a cord, the sheriff said, noting that the postmaster attempted to fight off the assailant. The robber made off with an undisclosed amount of money and some money orders, Sheriff Peebles said.
While attempting to flee to a car, the robber reportedly dropped his wallet - containing his license and social security card - and a pair of sunglasses, Sheriff Peebles said.
"We dusted the glasses for fingerprints and were able to confirm that (Mr. Ficklin) is the man we're looking for," Sheriff Peebles told The McDuffie Mirror. "The victim was able to make a positive identification of the suspect from a photo lineup provided by the GBI."
The postmaster was slightly injured and was taken to McDuffie Regional Medical Center in Thomson, Sheriff Peebles said. The woman received an injury to the nose and suffered bruises on her hands and arms in her attempt to fight off the robber. She later freed herself and went to a residence seeking help.
Sheriff Peebles said the suspect is believed to have attempted to cash a stolen money order in Hardwick, Ga., Saturday. Hardwick is located in Baldwin County - some 40 miles from where the post office is located in Warren County.
A reward of up to $5,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of in the case, Sheriff Peebles said. The reward has been established by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The second robbery occurred shortly before 6 p.m. at Tri-County Insurance Agency, off U.S. Highway 278 near Warrenton.
In that robbery, a man wearing a handkerchief as a mask and brandishing a handgun, got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, Sheriff Peebles said. The business owner was not injured.
The robberies are not connected, he said.
Agents with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are assisting the Warren County Sheriff's Department with the ongoing investigation of the robbery at the post office, according to Leah Moody, a spokeswoman with the federal agency. Additionally, McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall and his deputies, along with Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength and his deputies also helped in the investigation.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agents Teddy Jackson and Shanon Serigney also are assisting in the probe of both the robbery at the post office, as well as the insurance agency, said Gary Nicholson, agent in-charge of the Region 7 office in Thomson.
"I'm so pleased that we have other agencies assisting us on the post office robbery," Sheriff Peebles said. "If we have to do it by ourselves, it would be very difficult, because we have such a small department."
The post office re-opened Saturday morning, Ms. Moody said.
Anyone with information about either crime is asked to contact the Warren County Sheriff's Department at 706-465-3340; the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department at 706-595-2141 or the GBI at 706-595-2575. You may also call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's Atlanta Division at 404-608-4500.