Robbery suspect nabbed in New Castle

SALEM – A man accused of robbing the Sally Beauty Supply store, fleeing with the clerk’s car, purse and keys and leaving his accomplice behind on Monday is now in custody.

Christopher J. Mitchell, 41, who last known address was Darlington, Pa., was found roaming around the parking lot of the Lawrenceville Plaza in New Castle, Pa. Thursday and arrested without incident. He’s charged with robbery, a second-degree felony, and also facing a parole violation.

He was expected to be transported to the Mahoning County Jail to await a court appearance in Mahoning County Court in Sebring. His right to an extradition hearing was waived by virtue of him allegedly violating his parole for a previous theft charge.

Salem Police Det. Dave Talbert said they’ve been following up leads and did some interviews in the East Palestine area, with the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force out of Youngstown following up leads on possible locations for the suspect. He had been missing since the incident was reported late Monday afternoon at the store on East State Street just north of the Walmart store. Sally Beauty Supply is in the city limits but in Mahoning County.

Talbert and fellow Det. Brad Davis traveled to the Mahoning County Jail Wednesday night to interview the alleged co-defendant, 18-year-old Tony Fluharty, whose last known address was East Palestine. He was taken into custody late Wednesday afternoon at the Rescue Mission in Youngstown by the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, which includes a member of the Salem Police Department.

Fluharty is charged with complicity to robbery, a second-degree felony.

Contact with family members and friends of the suspect identified as Mitchell led police to the shopping plaza on Ellwood Road in New Castle, Pa. where he was found walking around. He was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force and Salem Police with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police, whom Talbert said were very helpful.

The store clerk’s missing vehicle, a silver Chrysler Concorde, was recovered in the parking lot along with some of the clerk’s other personal belongings, such as her purse and keys. She had told police the two men came into the store acting like they were going to make a purchase when one of them came behind the counter, placed her in a head-lock and removed the money from the cash register. The same man took her car keys and purse, then left, telling his accomplice to stay behind and make sure she didn’t call the police. The man then left in her car and after he drove away, the accomplice fled on foot. He was found by Salem Police and questioned, but then released after consultation with the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office. After some more interviews, charges were filed against both men and the search was on.

The clerk sought treatment at Salem Regional Medical Center.

Talbert said additional charges may be pending against both men, with the investigation continuing. He said the two men met in a homeless shelter in New Castle, Pa. According to Talbert, Mitchell has an extensive criminal history involving numerous felony offenses and property crimes such as grand larceny, stolen vehicles and felony thefts.