Russell County

Honaker pharmacy robbery suspect linked to Richmond area crime spree

HONAKER, Va. - An armed robbery at a pharmacy in our area has led police on a trail of holdups throughout Virginia. A man now indicted for armed robbery in Russell County is tracked to numerous crimes in the Richmond area.

"He threatened us the whole time. He had the gun waiving. Nobody touched cell phones. We don't want anyone to push any buttons. He basically stated what he wanted done at that time," New Garden Pharmacy employee Amanda Ball said.

Ball was one of six employees at the pharmacy in Honaker last October when a suspect came in demanding prescription pills. She told us the suspect had just come in 45 minutes prior to the robbery asking for Band-Aids, then came back with a gun demanding oxycodone.

"He told us all to count to 100, and we heard the slam again on the door and then he left," Ball said. "What I wondered the whole time is what is his plan, what's going to happen? I was so thankful when I heard the front door close and he was gone."

Honaker police chief Brandon Cassell told us the suspect got away with an estimated $50,000 worth of pills. A breakthrough in the case came when an investigator in Henrico County called with information about similar robberies there.

"A lot of the similarities was pharmacies. The request for the oxycodone specifically," Cassell said.

We contacted Henrico police who say James Deskins Jr. was arrested in three armed robberies there in late November. Authorities told us the first occurred at a pharmacy on November 24, 2016. Police said Deskins demanded money and pills before leaving the business.

The second occurred just two days later at a business in the area. During that robbery, police said Deskins displayed a handgun in his waistband and demanded money from a cash register.

The third robbery occurred the next day, after employees at the targeted business called 911 and hung up. Authorities told us he entered the business with a handgun and demanded money.

They found evidence during his arrest that linked Deskins to our area.

Cassell said, "The oxycodone bottles from the pharmacy that was taken here in Honaker found in his vehicle in his luggage when Henrico County actually made the arrest."

Deskins lives in Farmville, but Cassell told us he had been staying with family members near Honaker at the time of the New Garden Pharmacy robbery.

"Once the search was made of that residence, we actually found some clothing that was described to be worn during the time of the robbery," Cassell said.

Deskins is currently in jail on the charges in Henrico County. His case is set to go to the grand jury there in March.


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