Arrest made in Pinch home invasions
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Pinch man was arrested Monday and accused by police of robbing two homes in the area last month. An elderly woman beaten in one of the robberies was so badly hurt that she remains in the hospital.
Aaron B. Chapman, 21, was charged with two counts of nighttime burglary, one count of first-degree robbery and one count of attempted first-degree robbery in connection with the two home invasions in Pinch, said Kanawha County Sheriff Johnny Rutherford.
Detectives and deputies believe Chapman went to the Church Drive home of Ramona Jones, 74, early in the morning of Feb. 28. They say Chapman broke in and severely beat the woman. When emergency responders first arrived, Jones was unconscious.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court, deputies found broken furniture, bloodstains, open jewelry boxes and an overturned cook stove in Jones' house. Her flat-screen television was missing.
Jones had a broken collarbone, broken ribs, broken vertebrae and a broken facial bone, according to the complaint, as well as two punctured lungs and bleeding in the brain.
That same morning, deputies believe Chapman and another man tried to break in the door of Frank Mace, 59, of Mace Street.
Mace told deputies two men rang his doorbell just after midnight. At first he thought they were his grandsons and began to open the door, but soon realized they were up to no good.
Mace was also injured trying to keep the men from getting into his house. They fled after he called police, but not before smashing the glass out of his front door.
What Mace, a retired principal at Cedar Grove Elementary, didn't realize during the incident is that he knew Chapman. He said he made eye contact with Chapman during the incident but didn't make the connection until his name was brought up during the investigation.
That's because the men had scarves partially covering their faces, he said.
"I didn't want it to be true. I've been acquainted with Aaron's family for over 20 years," Mace said on Monday night. "I was around his mother when she was a little girl and I was around Aaron when he was born."
Mace said he used to pay Chapman, who lived across the street from him, to do odd jobs around his home. He hasn't spoken to Chapman's family since the arrest. He didn't know the man he said was with Chapman during the incident.
According to the criminal complaint, a bloodhound was able to track Chapman from Jones' house to Mace's house and back to Chapman's house. A man allegedly told deputies he was with Chapman and another man the night of the attacks, and that Chapman had asked to borrow a crowbar. A crowbar was found in Jones' home, and Mace said someone had tried to use a crowbar to break down his door.
The witness allegedly told deputies Chapman and the other man had been drinking and using marijuana when they started talking about breaking into homes in the area, according to the criminal complaint.
"I don't understand why he'd want to do something to someone who had never done anything unkind to you in your life. I want him to know he's changed my life forever," Mace said. "This is an incident I can forgive, but I can't forget. I'll never forget."
Chapman was arraigned in Kanawha County Magistrate Court by Magistrate Jack Pauley, who set a $75,000 cash-only bail.
Rutherford said more people may be arrested in the case.
"The sheriff's department has put hundreds of hours into this case," Rutherford said. "The deputies have worked long and hard on this one."
Staff writer Kate White contributed to this report.
Reach Rusty Marks at email@example.com or 304-348-1215.