One faces justice while the primary suspect is still on the run
JONESBORO, Ark. – A suspect in the robbery and attack of an elderly woman back in March is due in Craighead County Circuit Court this week. Following our initial report Monday, the suspected attacker was arrested Monday night in West Memphis.
This comes as the report in the case was just recently released to the press, revealing how authorities tracked the suspects and made arrests.
A 71-year-old couple were finishing grocery shopping on March 11 at Walmart Neighborhood Market, 2811 Creek Drive in Jonesboro. As they loaded up the groceries into their vehicle, the 71-year-old woman went to return her shopping cart like a good Samaritan would do. She did this even though she was wearing a surgical boot on her right foot.
Then, suddenly, a suspect exited a white Chevy Tahoe from the passenger’s seat and began walking toward her. She thought the suspect wanted her shopping cart but the suspect lunged at her, grabbing her purse. During the struggle, the younger suspect knocked the 71-year-old woman down to the pavement. She sustained minor injuries to her hands from the fall.
The injuries were of no concern to the four suspects in the Tahoe. Witnesses identified to police the suspect as Jamika Patrice Hamilton, 24, of 5116 Velvet Ridge Drive, North Little Rock. She got into the white Tahoe which then sped off. The purse was thrown into a ditch after the cash was stolen from inside of it.
The case was assigned to Detective Chad Hogard, who happened to know Blakes from arresting her for stealing from Foodsmart. For days, he worked to get in touch with Blakes but he couldn’t get her to answer the phone. She also apparently has a twin sister, further complicating JPD’s search. On March 18, a disturbance involving Bernekia Blakes was reported on Barrett Circle. Police didn’t find her there that day but they found a white Tahoe that came back to Bernekia Blakes. This gave police a location.
Detective Hogard returned on March 22 but couldn’t get Blakes to answer the door. It was obvious to him that the suspect was hiding at home. The apartment was also in close proximity to where the victim’s stolen purse was found.
Hogard returned to his office and worked to identify the others in the Tahoe. Two others aside from the driver and suspect were inside of the suspect vehicle, surveillance showed. Searching the suspect’s Facebook page, Hogard identified a friend named Kendall Mays. After comparing photos, it appeared to confirm Kendall Mays was in the vehicle. Not stopping there, Hogard found Jamika Badahx Hamilton on Facebook and thanks to her “red wig,” confirmed she was also present during the robbery.
Later that same day, Hogard got a phone number for Bernekia and called her. She claimed she didn’t remember him until he reminded her about the time he arrested her for stealing at Foodsmart. He made an appointment with her on March 27 to come in and talk. When she asked what it was about and the detective told her, she feigned ignorance, claiming she didn’t know anything about that. When he told her the names of her cohorts, she hung up.
It was pretty clear he was on the right trail.
March 25 was when the detective got a digital copy of the security video.
In the video it shows Bernekia Blakes, Darneshia Blakes, Jamika Hamilton, and Kendall Mays walk out of the first set of doors of Walmart. Kendall Mays then turns around and goes back in the store. The victims walk out and Kendall Mays then come back out of the store behind them. Berniak goes to her Tahoe and starts it while Darneshia and Jamika walk around to the passenger side where the victims are. Kendall then walks out and looks around the side of the Tahoe to see what is taking place and then walks back around and gets in the Tahoe. Darneshia and Jamika then jump in and Bernekia speeds off and you can see Victim #1 lying on the ground. At this time you can see people start to run to Victim #1 and one person attempt to get a tag of the TahoeDetective Chad Hogard
When March 27 arrived, Bernekia didn’t. She skipped out on the meeting with the JPD detective. Hogard was granted warrants for the arrest on all the suspects by Judge David Boling on March 29.
On April 1, Kendall Mays was arrested. He was interviewed the following day and claimed he didn’t know the robbery was going to happen. He said he was innocent. He initially didn’t tell Hogard a name but he eventually gave up the suspect’s name: Jamika Patrice Hamilton. It was the same female the victim said took her purse and knocked her to the ground.
Hogard called the prosecutor, Grant Deprow, and the two agreed to drop charges against Mays and Darneshia Lakita Blakes, instead focusing on Bernekia (the alleged driver) and Hamilton (the alleged robber).
On April 3, Bernekia was arrested. She was interviewed the following day at the county jail. At first, she wanted to wait for her attorney but she then began speaking anyway. She claimed she never spoke to the detective (it was her sister), and said they let the “wrong one go.” Bernekia claimed Kendall Mays had a gun and pointed it at Jamika making her take the lady’s purse. Hogard knew that wasn’t right because the video showed nothing of the sort. Bernekia said she didn’t have anything to do with it but Hogard reminded her she had been the driver. She claimed she didn’t know what to do because she was scared.
She advised she knows it looks bad because she drove off, but she really didnt know she was going to do it.Detective Chad Hogard
Bernekia Blakes is scheduled to appear in court again this week. She’s facing charges including robbery, first degree battery, theft of a credit card and theft greater than $1,000 but less than $5,000. All four charges are felonies.
Meanwhile, the suspected physical robbery suspect was arrested late Monday in West Memphis. Jamika Lashay Hamilton was arrested on a bench warrant Monday night, following our report.
On Tuesday, she appeared before Judge Tommy Fowler. He set her bond at $35,000 and found probable cause exists to charge her with four felonies including robbery, battery, and two theft charges.
Hamilton awaits her trial date in jail as of this publication.