SALISBURY — Police say they have caught a Salisbury woman who robbed a candy store — using a cup that she claimed was a gun — and later smashed lights and stole from pocketbooks at a local bar.
According to Salisbury police Chief David L'Esperance, Johanna M. Donovan, 44, 22 Atlantic Ave., Apt. 1, Salisbury, was arraigned yesterday in Newburyport District Court, charged with disorderly conduct, malicious destruction of property, two counts of larceny, two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of armed robbery in two different incidents at Salisbury Beach businesses last week. She is is being held on a total of $2,000 cash or $20,000 surety bail.
After arresting Donovan at Uncle Eddie's Lounge on Saturday night for smashing lights in the ladies room and stealing purses from customers, police recognized her description as a possible suspect in a robbery at Willey's Candy Store earlier in the week, L"Esperance said.
When candy store owner William Silsby was able to identify Donovan as the woman who robbed him claiming she had a gun, L'Esperance said, police brought armed robbery charges.
He said the department is looking into the possibility Donovan was involved in other crimes, and urges those who recognize her picture to contact the department immediately at 978-465-3121.
According to court documents, police were called to Uncle Eddie's Lounge on Ocean Front South at the beach late Saturday night by the owner Michael Pacheco and found a very intoxicated Donovan sitting outside being detained by a doorman with a wallet at her feet.
Officer Daniel McNeil's report stated Pacheco told him Donovan smashed the lights in the bathroom after stealing pocketbooks from two women at the lounge. Pacheco said he had a videotape of her stealing the first purse at the bar, then returning to steal another.
Finding evidence of the smashed lights and the belongings of the second purse-snatch victim in her possession, McNeil cuffed Donovan and took her to the station for booking, while she kicked, screamed and threatened him. It was after she was booked for the incident at Uncle Eddie's that along with McNeil, officer Tim Hunter and Sgt. Anothy King recognized Donovan fit the description of a woman they were seeking for the earlier Willey's Candy Store robbery.
According to the police report, on the evening of Nov. 10, a blonde wearing a white hoodie robbed Willey's Candy Store, located on Broadway. Requesting taffy, the woman walked around the counter and yelled at Silsby to get down on his knees, yelling, "I have a gun," shoving a hard object from her pocket into the small of his back.
After she reached into his pocket and took $20, Silsby realized she'd used a cup pretending it was a gun, according to the police report. He chased her from the store and down Railroad Avenue.
Although police tried to track her using a police dog, they couldn't find her.
Questioned on Sunday by Detective Mark Thomas about both incidents, Donovan said she had no memory of stealing anything at either Uncle Eddie's or Willey's. Police put together a photo array of pictures of five women matching the description Silsby gave them, including Donovan. Silsby picked Donovan's picture out immediately, according to the police report.
Getting a search warrant for Donovan's apartment, police found more evidence, including clothing matching the description Silsby gave and a pocketbook belonging to the first women who lost her bag at Uncle Eddie's Saturday night.
"This was an example of good, tenacious police work," L'Esperance said. "The whole department's been working very hard, and it's paid off. They've taken extra steps and have a zero tolerance attitude to solve these cases."