2 pistols recovered after arrests in Southern jewelry heists
ATLANTA (AP) — Two loaded, semi-automatic pistols were recovered by federal agents from a Georgia apartment following the arrests of two suspects in a spree of jewelry store robberies across the South, newly filed court records show.
Abigail Lee Kemp, 24, and Lewis Jones III, 35, are accused of teaming up to rob a half-dozen jewelry stores in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Jones threw one pistol under a bed as agents entered the apartment in Smyrna, Georgia, just northwest of Atlanta, to make the arrests Friday. That is the gun believed to have been used in at least two robberies, in Florida and South Carolina, FBI Special Agent Lawrence Borghini wrote in a sworn affidavit.
The second pistol, which was Kemp’s, was found on a counter in the kitchen area, Borghini said. He said that weapon is believed to have been used in at least one of the robberies: the Jan. 4 holdup of a Jared’s Vault jewelry store in Mebane, North Carolina.
No shots were fired during the arrests.
After the arrests, Kemp agreed to speak with agents and told them how she would go into a jewelry store wearing an earpiece with a microphone attached to her cellphone so she could communicate with Jones during the heists, court records state.
At least $2.2 million was taken in the robberies, court records show, but the records do not reveal what happened to the stolen jewelry. Authorities have not said whether any of it has been recovered.
If convicted, Kemp faces up to 20 years in federal prison, authorities have said. She faces a Thursday bond hearing. Her lawyer, federal public defender Rebecca Shepard, declined to comment after Kemp’s first court appearance Monday. Kemp broke down and cried as U.S. marshals led her out of the federal courtroom in Atlanta.
Jones is being held in DeKalb County, just outside Atlanta, on charges related to an August 2014 bank robbery there, the FBI said late Monday. Jones is also a suspect in a September 2014 bank robbery in Smyrna, authorities said. Court records do not indicate whether Jones has a lawyer.
The FBI analyzed data from cellphone towers near the jewelry stores, pictures from Kemp’s social media accounts, store surveillance and tips from the public to identify her and Jones as suspects in the robberies, authorities say in court records.
Associated Press writer Kate Brumback contributed to this report.