Crime

Police already suspected him in one knifepoint robbery, but that was just the start

Listen to police dispatch calls from hotel robberies in Bellingham

Bellingham Police are investigating a recent rash of six armed robberies and attempted robberies at knifepoint of motels located along the Meridian Street corridor since Jan. 16, 2019.
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Bellingham Police are investigating a recent rash of six armed robberies and attempted robberies at knifepoint of motels located along the Meridian Street corridor since Jan. 16, 2019.

Police say a Bellingham man suspected of robbing the 2020 Solutions marijuana store at knifepoint on Feb. 7 has been linked to another 11 robberies of area motels and pot shops in late January and early February.

Though nobody was hurt in any of the robberies, he’s suspected of stealing $10,470.50 during a 23-day spree, according to a Bellingham Police Department press release Friday, which said he’s also suspected of failing to register as a sex offender. Whatcom County Superior Court records also show he’s facing an additional charge for witness tampering for a call he allegedly made while in jail.

As previously reported in The Bellingham Herald, Michael Dean James, 26, was arrested Feb. 7 and booked into Whatcom County Jail Feb. 8 on suspicion of first degree robbery and first-degree theft, after he allegedly stole $5,500 in cash from 2020 Solutions.

Angelica Evajune Willard, 26, and Cecelia Corrin Morris, 28, also were arrested as suspected accomplices after they allegedly fled 2020 Solutions with James in a get-away car. Officers later located Willard and Morris in the car, which helped lead to James’ arrest later that night.

“The collaboration of excellent descriptive information from the public, along with a hard-working, dedicated police crew resulted in a robbery team’s capture,” Bellingham Police Chief David Doll said in a statement at the time of the arrest. “I am so proud of the tenacity of our patrol officers and support personnel, who were able to act upon public reporting information — a true example of community policing and offender accountability.”

After the arrest, according to Friday’s release, detectives looked at the similarities between other robberies that had occurred, leading them to believe James had committed 11 others between Jan. 16 and Feb. 7, including:

▪ A Jan. 16 robbery at the Baymont Inn, when James allegedly stole $349.50 in cash at knifepoint and fled on foot.

▪ A Jan. 18 robbery of the Baymont Inn, when James allegedly attempted to enter the lobby, found the doors locked and left without money.

▪ A Jan. 19 robbery of the Rodeway Inn, when James allegedly demanded money at knifepoint, but the clerk refused and James fled.

▪ A Jan. 20 robbery of the Baymont Inn, when James allegedly stole $300 in cash at knifepoint and fled on foot.

▪ A Jan. 25 robbery of the Best Western Heritage Inn, when James allegedly stole the cash drawer with $320, while the clerk called 911 from a back office.

▪ A Jan. 26 robbery of the Baymont Inn, when James allegedly demanded money at knifepoint, but staff refused and James fled.

▪ A Jan. 29 robbery of the Quality Inn Baron Suites, when James allegedly demanded money at knifepoint, but the clerk refused and James fled.

▪ A Jan. 30 robbery of the Dancing Gypsies marijuana shop, when James allegedly stole $211 in cash at knifepoint and fled on foot.

▪ A Jan. 31 robbery of the NorthPoint CBD & Organics, when James allegedly stole $872 in cash at knifepoint and fled on foot.

▪ A Feb. 3 robbery at 2020 Solutions, when James allegedly stole $2,918 in cash at knifepoint and fled on foot.

▪ A Feb. 7 robbery of the Days Inn, when James allegedly jumped the counter and demanded money, but the clerk called 911 and James fled without any money.

The release noted that James wore the same or similar clothing in 11 of the 12 robberies.

James also was served with probable cause for failure to register as a sex offender on Feb. 17, according to the release.

Court records also state that on Feb. 9, James made a phone call from the jail and told a woman to pass along a message to a female witness to change her statement about where James had been.

James is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, according to jail records. Court records show he’s scheduled to appear in court Thursday for an amended arraignment, and a jury trial is scheduled to begin April 8.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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