OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - It was a questionable story from the beginning.
And now Ottawa County detectives have confirmed the grocery store employee who claimed he was kidnapped and forced to rob it made up the story.
The suspect, who 24 Hour News 8 has been able to identify through jail records as 20-year-old Justin Kelsey, went before a judge Thursday afternoon. Kelsey works at the Family Fare store in Coopersville, 1181 W. Randall St.
"Some of his motive -- although I have to be careful when I talk about that publicly at this juncture -- was to commit a perfect crime," said Lt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department. "Well, obviously that didn't happen."
He told detectives two armed men came to his Coopersville home on the morning of Feb. 8 and forced him at gunpoint to go to the store, open up the safe and give them money.
But there were a lot of holes in his story. Early on in the investigation Ottawa County detectives focused on the likelihood of the story being true. The more they dug the more they doubted it. Several tips were called in that put doubt over Kelsey's story.
On Wednesday Kelsey went to the sheriff's department to talk to detectives and confessed.
Bennett wouldn't say exactly how much money was stolen, but according to court documents obtained by 24 Hour News 8, Kelsey took $15,600 from the store safe.
That money remains missing.
"We don't know if it's been spent yet. We think there's folks out there that do know that," said Bennett. "There's a real indication that others may know and I don't want to see anybody take a fall for something like this if they have information."
If you do know but you don't want to call detectives directly, Bennett suggests calling in a tip to Ottawa County Silent Observer at 1-877-88 SILENT (745368).
Kelsey was arraigned Thursday afternoon on false report of a felony, embezzlement and concealed weapons charges. His bond was set at $20,000.
Bennett said the gun charge is related to the unregistered handgun found in Kelsey's possession after he reported being released from the made-up captors. If he actually had been the victim of a crime, the prosecutor may have skipped the gun charge, Bennett said.
It was believed Kelsey was the assistant manager at the store, but Spartan Store officials told 24 Hour News 8 he was only an employee. He is now suspended pending the completion of the investigation.
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