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Effingham arrests lead to crack in Chatham robbery
08-07-03 Thomas
Joseph Louis Thomas

Effingham County sheriff’s deputies arrested two people on unrelated charges who are linked to a robbery of a Chatham County restaurant.

Joseph Louis Thomas and Nicole Wagner were arrested on firearms charges, and Effingham authorities contacted Savannah Metro Chatham Police when the suspects provided information about a June 23 holdup of the Waffle House at I-95 and Highway 204. Thomas and Wagner have been charged with party to the crime of armed robbery.

SMCPD investigators now believe the robbery was an “inside job,” and the weapon found in Thomas and Wagner’s car was used in the robbery. Five people are now under arrest for the robbery and police are searching for a sixth suspect.

“This is a good example of two agencies working together to solve crime in our community,” ECSO Detective David Ehsanipoor said.

The arrests of Thomas and Wagner stemmed from a report of a July 1 assault in the southern part of the county. After Effingham investigators discovered the two may be involved in the Waffle House robbery, they contacted SMCPD robbery detectives.

According to the victims, two suspects entered the restaurant with semi-automatic handguns and ordered them to open the safe. One of the victims was secured with a black zip-tie, while the other employee opened the register for the suspects. They then fled the scene in a red van.

After lengthy conversations with Waffle House employees, it became apparent that another employee allegedly set up the robbery. Police followed up on information from the community about the getaway vehicle, a red Astro van, and the story began to become clear to detectives.

Jennifer Marie Wellong and Alexander Wayne Dean also have been charged with party to the crime of armed robbery, while James Lee Lewis and Dustin Keith Broughton have been charged with armed robbery.

While Lewis is in custody, police are still searching for 21-year-old Broughton. He is known to live in the Bloomingdale area. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Broughton is urged to contact Metro Police at (912) 651-6675 or CrimeStoppers at 234-2020.