A 40-year-old Woodbridge woman and her pregnant 21-year-old daughter have been charged with two armed robberies in Prince William County. Police said the younger woman's 2-year-old child was in the car during the incidents.
Christine Marie Kestner and her daughter, Michelle P. Allen, of Woodbridge, were arrested Monday on two counts each of armed robbery and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Police believe the women stole $114 from Creative Custom Framing in Manassas on Dec. 17 and more than $400 from Aden Road Grocery Store in Nokesville the next day, according to court records.
Kestner, a homemaker and part-time babysitter, also is charged with one count of petty theft for allegedly cashing a $338.62 check belonging to her former employer, court records show.
She has been released on $20,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing Feb. 13. Allen, also a homemaker, was held yesterday at the Prince William jail on $40,000 bond. A bond reduction hearing is scheduled today, court officials said.
If convicted, they face a penalty of five years to life in prison for armed robbery and two to four years for use of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
In a court document, Kestner said she had been convicted of burglary and grand theft in the District, Maryland, Fairfax County and Prince William County several times during the last 15 years.
According to court records, one of the suspects entered the framing store about 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 and asked store owner Doris Miller for a quarter for 25 pennies, Miller said. Police said one of the women, dressed in an Army fatigue jacket and ski cap, entered the store 10 minutes later and also asked for a quarter.
"When the second woman came in and asked for a quarter, I thought it was strange," Miller said. "I said, 'That's really interesting. A girl came in before you and wanted 25 pennies.' She said 'Really,' and I knew in my heart that it was gonna be a hit."
Miller said she was reluctant to open the cash register while the suspect watched and to give her a quarter. "I think I just knew it was a robbery, although I didn't want to believe it," she said. "I looked down at the cash register and thought, 'I'm going to open this and this is gonna be it.' "
Charles Speakes, owner of Aden Road Grocery, said he was outside his store about 2 p.m. on Dec. 18 when two women in an older model Camaro pulled into the parking lot and sat and watched him. One of the women, he said, bought $2.80 in gasoline.
"I was suspicious when they pulled up because they just sat there," Speakes said. "I wrote down their license plate number. Then she got out and pumped some gas and come over and paid me for it."
Police said a 2-year-old child was in the back seat.
The women left and returned. After he went inside the store, Speakes said, one of the women walked in. "She said, 'This is a holdup,' " Speakes said. "I like to kid around a lot, so I thought it was a joke at first. When she produced the gun, I knew she was serious."
After he turned over the money, the robber made him lie down on the floor. "She said if I didn't lay down, she would kill me, or if I stood up, she would kill me," he said.