Taxis, credit cards, Facebook lead CPD to new robbery spree arrest

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COLUMBIA - Police said Friday they arrested a second suspect in connection to the recent string of armed robberies in north Columbia, and prosecutors charged the first suspect, 31-year-old Jafari Boss, Friday with a total of 13 charges including armed robbery, armed criminal action and kidnapping.

Police were able to build a case against Boss and the second suspect, a 16-year-old male, through physical evidence, taxi records, credit card statements and a Facebook photo. Boss' arrest came after a shots fired call Wednesday night. The two suspects are wanted after robberies at Speedy Mart, Budget Host Inn, Denny's, We B Smokin and China Moon Restaurant dating back to Dec. 3.

A link in the case that led to the second suspect's arrest came during a home invasion in north Columbia Dec. 12, the day before the China Moon robbery. The homeowner told police he feared for his life and shot a gun out a window at the suspects. Officers found duct tape during an investigation at the scene. Police later picked up the juvenile suspect on the University of Missouri campus after a call of a gunshot victim. The report said the 16-year-old was unable to provide a credible story to police, but said he had tried to treat the wound with duck tape.

Both Boss and the juvenile's mother visited the juvenile suspect at the hospital. 

A witness near the China Moon robbery reported seeing two black males running around the back of a nearby gas station and getting into an Economy Cab taxi. After investigation, police discovered the mother's cell phone called the taxi company shortly after the Denny's robbery. A cab driver told police a second phone number associated with Boss was used during the We B Smokin and China Moon robberies. 

Police said Boss and the juvenile suspect were living with the juvenile's mother (and Boss' girlfriend) in a north Columbia home, and police were able to match taxi destinations to their home address. Taxi drivers gave descriptions fitting descriptions of the suspects, and the drivers said they picked up the suspects at locations near the incidents shortly after the final four of the five robberies. Each time, the cab dropped the suspects off at the mother's north Columbia address, but police didn't say if the drivers were aware they were transporting criminals.

Police also tracked the purchase of the masks Boss and the minor wore during most of the robberies to purchases at Party City in Columbia with the mother's credit card the night of the Speedy Mart robbery. During a police interview Thursday, detectives said the mother admitted to purchasing the masks at Boss' instruction. She said she was afraid of Boss and knew he was involved in the robberies. 

One officer went online to the juvenile's Facebook page and noticed the suspect was wearing a black hoodie with a white zipper in one of the pictures that matched a witness description of a hoodie worn during the Speedy Mart armed robbery Dec 3.

In incidents stringing from Dec. 3 to Dec. 13, prosecutors charged Boss with five counts of first-degree armed robbery, five counts of armed criminal action and three counts of kidnapping. Officers arrested the minor in connection to all of the incidents except the Denny's robbery Dec. 6. He faces four counts of first-degree robbery and three counts of kidnapping.

Below is a timeline of the robberies and related incidents:

  • Dec. 3: Armed robbery at Speedy Mart, suspects wearing red and black plastic masks, one wearing black hoodie with white zipper, duct tape used to restrain employees
  • Dec. 5: Armed robbery at Budget Host Inn, suspects wearing black plastic masks, money put into backpack, duct tape used to restrain employees, taxi descriptions match suspects
  • Dec. 6: Armed robbery at Denny's, suspect wearing black plastic mask, money put into backpack, suspect fired gun into ceiling, taxi destination matches suspects' home
  • Dec. 8: Armed robbery at We B Smokin, suspects wearing ski masks, money put into backpacks, zip ties used to restrain employees, taxi destination matches suspects' home
  • Dec. 12: Home invasion at north Columbia residence, suspect wearing red mask, one wearing black hoodie, duct tape recovered on scene, victim fired shot, juvenile suspect found shot on campus, Boss and mother visited juvenile in hospital, home address provided matches taxi destinations
  • Dec. 13: Armed robbery at China Moon, zip ties used to restrain employees, witness reported suspects got into a taxi
  • Dec. 17: Shots fired incident on I-70 Drive Southwest, officers arrest Boss in the 900 block of Bernadette Drive
  • Dec. 18: Juvenile suspect's mother (Boss' girlfriend) interviews with police, admits buying masks at Party City the night of the Speedy Mart robbery
  • Dec. 19: Prosecutors charge Boss with 13 counts in connection to the string of armed robberies
  • Dec. 19: Officers arrest juvenile suspect in connection to four of the five armed robberies