The Latest: Couple suspected in hotel robbery, abduction

AP News
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Posted: Feb 01, 2016 4:31 PM

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on the search for two suspects in the abduction of a woman from her Alabama home (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

Police say a Missouri couple wanted for abducting an Alabama woman and stealing her family's SUV is also being charged with robbing and abducting a hotel clerk elsewhere in the state a little less than two hours earlier.

Tuscaloosa police Lt. Kip Hart said Monday that Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper of Joplin, Missouri, have been charged with robbery, theft and kidnapping. He says security video from the Microtel Inn in Tuscaloosa showed the safe being robbed before the overnight clerk was abducted early Sunday morning.

The clerk was found unharmed in suburban Vestavia Hills, where the Missouri pair has been charged with forcing a woman into an SUV at her home while stealing the vehicle. The suspects are still at large.

Police also suspect the couple of trying to rob a McDonald's manager in nearby Hoover on Sunday morning.

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1:20 p.m.

Police say they expect to charge a couple wanted for the abduction of a woman in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, with the attempted robbery of a McDonald's manager in a nearby Birmingham suburb.

Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector said authorities believe Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper of Joplin, Missouri, tried to rob the manager about 15 minutes before they abducted the woman from her home Sunday morning.

Rector said a gunman approached the manager and demanded money and her car keys. Rector said the manager began screaming, threw her keys on the ground and ran into the store, and the couple fled. Rector said they believe the same couple were involved in both crimes after interviewing the manager.

Fitzgerald and Harper are still at large. They face charges of kidnapping and theft in the home invasion and abduction. Both are 30 years old.

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(This item has been corrected to reflect that the suspects are both 30, not 31).

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9:25 a.m.

Police in Alabama say they're asking the U.S. Marshals Service to help in the hunt for a Missouri couple after a gunman entered a home and forced a woman into the family's SUV, which was then stolen.

Vestavia Hills police Lt. Kevin York tells The Associated Press the Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force will be asked to help search for the suspects in the Sunday morning home invasion.

Alabama authorities have warrants charging Joplin, Missouri, residents Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper with kidnapping and theft. Both are 30 years old.

Police say Fitzgerald entered the home through an open garage door, said he was having car trouble, then pulled a gun and demanded the vehicle. York says the woman was later released unharmed about 10 miles away.

(This item has been corrected to reflect that the suspects are both 30, not 31.)

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7:45 a.m.

Police in a Birmingham, Alabama, suburb are searching for a Missouri couple after they say a gunman entered a home and forced a woman into the family's SUV, which was then stolen.

Vestavia Hills police said in a statement that the suspects later dropped the abducted woman off at a hospital following the Sunday morning home invasion.

Police say the male suspect had entered the home through a garage door, said he was having car trouble and then pulled gun and demanded the vehicle.

Police said they're searching for the stolen SUV — a 2010 silver Ford Edge.

Police said warrants have been issued for two suspects, identified as Joplin, Missouri, residents Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper, both 30, who both face kidnapping and theft charges.

(This item has been corrected to reflect that both suspects are 30, not 31).