Pair face charges in 2-month string of robberies

Pair face charges in 2-month string of robberies

A Columbus couple has been arrested after a multi-jurisdictional investigation of gas station and convenience store robberies over the last two months, officials said.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office said Jacob M. Scheel, 32, and Nicole M. Nichols, 36, were both being held Friday in the Columbia County Jail in connection with robberies dating back to Oct. 15.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation after the BP Station on Stevens Drive in the town of Burke was robbed the night of Oct. 15.

An attempted armed robbery in the village of Deerfield and eight additional armed robberies took place over the course of three weeks following the Burke incident, according to the report. The crimes took place in Marshall, Sun Prairie, DeForest, McFarland, the town of Dunn and on Dec. 4, a Subway was robbed in Columbus.

All of the robberies involved a lone man armed with a hatchet or handgun and wearing a ski mask and dark clothing. As the crimes occurred, detectives from the respective jurisdictions joined in the investigation.

Scheel and Nichols became people of interest in the cases after a blue 2001 Chrysler Sebring was seen leaving McFarland moments after the robbery of the BP Station on Burma Road. Nichols was also seen on surveillance video just minutes before the attempted robbery in Deerfield. Detectives now believe she was casing the businesses before Scheel entered.

The multiple law enforcement agencies working this case were keeping a close eye on the couple’s comings and goings, and when their car was known to be near the Subway in Columbus at the time of the robbery on Sunday, detectives from the sheriff’s office, Sun Prairie, McFarland, and DeForest police assisted Columbus police with carrying out a search warrant on the couple’s home at 195 Fuller Street in Columbus on Monday. Scheel and Nichols were taken into custody.

Scheel is facing 10 counts of armed robbery, as he reportedly admitted to a February 2015 robbery in the town of Burke. Nichols, who teh sheriff’s office said admitted to driving Scheel to and from most of the robberies, has been tentatively charged with eight counts of party to a crime of armed robbery.

“This investigation was truly a team effort by the seven law enforcement agencies involved. Everyone had a piece in solving this case and putting this crime spree to an end,” Mahoney said Friday morning.