Suspected purse snatchers charged with robbery

By Gus Bode

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Two suspects connected to a pair of early morning purse snatchings are charged with robbery, Carbondale police said Wednesday.

Christopher W. Westberry, 25, of Royalton, and Whitney L. Arvai, 20, of Zeigler, were arrested and charged with two counts of robbery.


The first robbery occurred at Kroger’s in Carbondale and the second occurred at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.

At about 4:40 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of a robbery in the parking lot of Kroger’s on Giant City Road, Officer Randy Mathis said. A 74-year-old female from Cobden said she was in the parking lot when a car stopped next to her. A man exited the car and took the woman’s purse, then fled the area in the car.

According to the report, another woman was in the car with the man.

Less than two hours later, police received another report of a robbery inside the hospital.

An 80-year-old woman was waiting by elevators near the emergency room when a man grabbed her handbag and ran towards the parking lot, police said.

Mathis said information from witnesses and evidence from the scenes led police to Westberry and Arvai. Police arrested both suspects in Carbondale and took them to Jackson County Jail in Murphysboro.

Westberry was still in jail Wednesday evening with bond set at $15,000. Arvai was released after posting $500.


Both suspects are charged with robbery. Mathis said the state’s attorney could consider the age of the victims as an “aggravating factor,” increasing the severity of the charges.

“In the commission of a robbery there are several factors that will up the ante on it and age is one of them,” Mathis said. “It could be robbery or it could be higher.”

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