Grand jury will review case against alleged bank robber image

Jeffrey Tapp, accused in the recent robbery of Lake Chem Community Federal Credit Union in Draffenville, consults his attorney, Amy Harwood-Jackson, the public defender appointed in his case, during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing in Marshall District Court where Judge Jack Telle ruled probable cause was demonstrated and forwarded the case to a grand jury for further deliberation.

RACHEL KELLER COLLINS/The Tribune-Courier

The court learned last week it was a BB gun tucked into the waist band of the alleged robber who demanded $4,000 cash from a teller at Lake Chem Community Federal Credit Union in Draffenville on Oct. 15. But because it was represented as a life-threatening instrument, Marshall District Judge Jack Telle told Jeffrey Tapp's attorney the grand jury will have to decide if the charge of robbery in the 2nd degree is appropriate and forwarded the case with charges as assigned by law enforcement.

Marshall County Sheriff's Office Detective Jody Cash testified during the preliminary hearing Wednesday and recalled the events of the alleged robbery which he said were confirmed on video footage from both inside and outside the credit union, as well as picture and video from a credit union employee and reports from the employees who were present. He said approximately 40 minutes after the robbery, Tapp was located and stopped while driving the vehicle featured in the surveillance footage, which displayed a license plate registered to the car being driven and listed Tapp as the owner.

Cash identified Tapp, 63, of Benton, as the man who walked into the credit union at 3:40 p.m. on Oct. 15 and approached the teller saying he needed $4,000 before informing her "it was a robbery." He said although there were no reports of Tapp verbally mentioning the weapon to the teller, the butt of the gun "was in plain view," sticking out from Tapp's waistband.

"She put her hands up and walked to the drawer that had that amount and handed it to him," he testified.

At 3:53 p.m., Cash testified, the first call reporting the robbery came in to Marshall County E-911 dispatch center and a number of law enforcement officers were immediately dispatched. A few went to the credit union while the rest searched for the vehicle the suspect was seen driving. At approximately 4:30 p.m., he recalled, six officers from three law enforcement agencies located Tapp at the intersection of Highway 408 and Highway 68 and conducted a traffic stop.

Cash said during a search of the vehicle, officers recovered the black handgun which was determined to be a CO2 BB gun with a wooden handle and clothing that matched the description given by credit union employees.

During a video and audio recorded interview with Cash and MCSO Detective Matt Hilbrecht, Tapp allegedly admitted committing the robbery, revealed the location of clothes worn during the incident he had disposed afterward and revealed both locations of the cash he had stolen. Cash said just following the robbery, Tapp allegedly dropped $3,000 of the $4,000 to a person in Benton who was unnamed during testimony.

He confirmed that person was interviewed but not charged.

A Marshall County grand jury is scheduled to review the matter and the appropriateness of the charges against Tapp Nov. 11.

Tapp remains in the custody of the Marshall County Detention Center where he's being held on a $500,000 cash bond. He is charged with robbery, 1st degree, a Class B felony and tampering with physical evidence, a Class D felony.