A 35-year-old man has been named as the suspected accomplice of a Georgia woman accused in a string of brazen jewelry store robberies in several southern states.
Lewis Jones III was charged in federal court in Florida on Monday, 11 Alive News reports.
The woman, 24-year-old waitress and aspiring model Abigail Lee Kemp, was arrested Sunday in Smyrna, Georgia, along with Jones. According to the Washington Post, Kemp told investigators Jones, whom she called Lou, had a role in the robberies.
Jones was charged in the Northern District of Florida with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence by robbery.
Kemp is suspected of at least six armed robberies at stores in five states. The first robbery occurred on April 29 in Woodstock, Georgia, with the latest taking place on January 4 Mebane, North Carolina, police say.
She is also suspected in similar robberies on October 16 in Sevierville, Tennessee; on September 2 in Bluffton, South Carolina; on August 11 in Panama City, Florida; and on August 5 in Dawsonville, Georgia. It’s not yet clear how many of those robberies Jones is suspected of taking part in.
Here’s what you need to know about Jones, Kemp and the robberies they are suspected in:
1. Jones Is Also Accused of Committing 2 ‘Violent’ Bank Robberies in Georgia
Jones is currently being held in DeKalb County, Georgia, on a charge of felony armed robbery, jail records show. The FBI had previously released information about Jones, saying he was wanted for two 2014 bank robberies.
According to the February 2015 press release from the FBI’s Atlanta office, the 6-foot, 315 pound Jones was suspected of teaming with two other men to rob banks on August 12, 2014, and September 9, 2014. The first robbery occurred in Atlanta and the second in Smyrna, the FBI said.
Two other men were previously arrested. One has already pleaded guilty, while the other was awaiting trial.
2. The FBI Says Kemp Zip-Tied Store Employees at Gunpoint Before Stealing Jewelry
The FBI says Jones and his accomplice, Abigail Lee Kemp, followed a similar strategy in each of the jewelry store robberies.
Investigators say Kemp would holdup the employees at gunpoint, then tie them up, lock the doors of the store and put items from display cases into bags, before fleeing, according to court documents.
Her accomplice would stand watch outside, and they fled in a getaway car each time, the FBI says. Kemp was seen on surveillance video communicating with someone on a cell phone during the robberies, the FBI says.
During the January 4 robbery at Jared Vault in Mebane, North Carolina, the FBI says she walked into the store at about 10:30 a.m. and showed a handgun. Then she forced two employees into a back room and zip-tied their hands, investigators say. She went back to the marchandise area, removed various items from display cases and stuff them into a shopping bag before leaving, according to the FBI press release.
She is accused of stealing $938,352 worth of merchandise in the North Carolina heist.
See more photos from the robberies Kemp is suspected of below:
3. Kemp Was Caught After Investigators Received Several Tips About Her, the FBI Says
The FBI released several photos and a video of the robberies in hopes of identifying the suspect, who they now believe to be Kemp. The fact she didn’t wear a mask made her any easier target for investigators.
According to court documents, the FBI they received tips from people who knew Kemp and recognized her from surveillance photos. The tipsters said she was seen wearing expensive jewelry. They also said she owned a handgun and had recently painted her Honda Civic. A similar car had been seen near the jewelry stores.
Investigators also found that a telephone number associated with Kemp was used at or near four of the robbery locations when the heists were being committed, court documents show. The FBI says that the robber was seen in surveillance video wearing an ear piece and talking to someone on the phone, which she was holding.
The FBI also released a photo of a man seen at multiple robbery scenes, but it is not yet clear if they believe that man was Jones, or another suspect.
4. The Duo Is Possibly Linked to a Larger Crime Organization
The FBI has said Jones and Kemp could be part of a larger jewelry theft organization.
Special Agent Lawrence Borghini, of the FBI’s Jacksonville office, told NBC News the pair was going after very expensive items and might have been supplying a “wish-list” and fencing the stolen goods in a big city or overseas.
“They definitely have some connection with the ability to get these items to a place which can sell them or get them on the market and turn them into cash,” Borghini said.
The Jeweler Security Alliance believes more than $4 million worth of diamonds, watches and other jewelry were stolen during the spree. A $10,000 reward was issued for information about the suspect by the Jeweler Security Alliance, which called her its “Public Enemy No. 1.”
“She’s a very, very bold criminal,” said John Kennedy, president of the organization, told NBC News.
Kennedy said this is the first time he’s seen a robbery spree where the main suspect is a woman.
“Usually you have a gang of males (who) will go in — occasionally they’ll be accompanied by a female — but to have a lone female go in is extraordinarily rare,” he said.
5. Kemp Worked as a Waitress & Once Played for a Lingerie Football Team
Abby Kemp grew up in Cobb County, Georgia, and most recently worked as a waitress at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in Kennesaw, according to her social media profiles. She also previously worked at Hooters.
A high school athlete, Kemp played for a lingerie football team in Atlanta as a quarterback, according to her Twitter posts.
She was previously arrested in 2011 on a battery charge in Smyrna, Georgia. She was arrested at least three other times, but details of those cases weren’t immediately available. It’s not known if she has any other prior arrests.
Kemp appeared in court for the first time on Monday, crying as her family watched as she was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals. She is charged with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence, by robbery. A man was also taken into custody, but the FBI is not commenting on his identity or whether he is the same man seen in surveillance photos that they were looking for along with Kemp.
Discuss on Facebook