Authorities make arrest in Peoples News robbery

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg Police detectives made an arrest Tuesday in the Feb. 1 robbery of Peoples News at 3601 Emerson Ave., officials said.

Brian Bradley Wright, 22, of 112 Marie Lane, Washington, W.Va., was arrested Tuesday around 11 a.m. and charged with felony grand larceny, police said.

Wright was processed at Parkersburg police headquarters and his bond was set at $100,000 in Wood County Magistrate Court. He was placed in the Wood County Holding Center to await transport to the North Central Regional Jail, officals said.

The business was robbed by a masked man dressed in all black during the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 1, according to police. Police said they believe the man arrested was working with the store employee who would later call 911 and report the robbery.

According to police, the two split nearly $22,000 from the store.

At the time of the incident, detectives and uniformed officers searched the area with K-9 units, coming up with little results, officials said. Detectives learned a male suspect allegedly robbed the store by gaining entry through an unlocked door in the back of the business, officials said.

Wood County 911 dispatchers were told by store employee Benjamin Adam Stephan an unknown male dressed in black and wearing a black ski mask approached him in the rear of the business while he was outside smoking, police said. Stephan later told police the man approached him with a weapon, struck him in the face and fled on foot, police said.

Police said Stephan is related to the owner of the store and knew how much money would be on hand and when it would be available.

Sgt. Greg Collins with the Parkersburg Police Department said the robbery sounded suspicious to police from the beginning.

“We knew nearly from the onset of this investigation that something seemed amiss,” Collins said of the robbery. “We (detectives) got our heads together on scene and determined that we needed to explore the inside job angle in great detail.”

Collins said it was about one week into the investigation when police detectives believed the robbery was staged.

Collins said Stephan’s attorney is cooperating with police and officials are confident Stephan will turn himself in. Detectives expect Stephan to turn himself in on a charge of falsely reporting an emergency incident, police said.

Police said the investigation is ongoing pending the arrest of the other suspect.

“Detectives (P.M.) Edelen and (T.A.) Davis did a fantastic job bringing this case to a successful conclusion,” Collins said.