The man suspected of the local armed robbery spree Thursday and Friday, Jan. 29-30, was charged Tuesday.
Matthew J. Otto, 41, Fremont, was charged with three counts of armed robbery and is in custody on a $50,000 cash bond.
Waupaca police responded to the first robbery at approximately 3 a.m. Thursday.
The driver of a tank truck who was delivering fuel to the BP gas station on West Fulton Street in Waupaca was robbed by a masked man at gunpoint.
The robber demanded the driver’s wallet, who removed about $300 in cash from his wallet and handed it to the gunman.
The gunman then said, “Thank you,” and ran off between the BP station and the adjacent Village Inn, according to the criminal complaint.
At approximately 10:22 p.m. Thursday, Waupaca County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Northport BP convenience store on State Highway 54 west of New London. The clerk reported that she had just been robbed at gunpoint.
The clerk said she had been cleaning the store, getting ready to close for the night when she heard the door chimes ring as someone entered. A masked man then jumped over the counter with a handgun and ordered her to empty the cash register.
He then ordered her to the back of the store and to lie down on the floor. He said he did not want to shoot her but he would if he had to.
The clerk gave Deputy Matthew Whitaker a description of the suspect. She said he was a male between 5 foot six inches and 5 foot 8 inches, weighing 175 pounds.
The suspect was described as wearing a dark ski mask and the handgun was described as black with a squared-off barrel.
Whitaker reviewed video footage from the store’s security camera and observed that the suspect was wearing blue gloves, a black hooded sweatshirt, a gray plaid flannel shirt over the sweatshirt, a stocking cap with what appeared to be a flame design on it and a neoprene face mask.
Shortly after 4:30 a.m. Friday, a robbery was reported at the Waupaca Mobil Travel Plaza on West Fulton Street and Grand Seasons Drive. Numerous officers from the Waupaca Police Department and the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call.
Waupaca Police Officer Brent Krueger spoke with the clerk. She said a masked man entered the store and ordered her to give him the money from the cash register, which she did.
He ordered her to lie down on the floor, then left through the back door of the store.
She described the suspect as wearing a dark hood and some sort of mask.
Deputy Whitaker then found snowprints leading from the rear loading area of the Mobil truck stop, southwest into the woods, then ultimately to the door of the Ramada Grand Seasons Hotel.
Deputy Dan Lewinski spoke with the hotel clerk who indicated that Otto and a woman had checked into the hotel at about 4 a.m. She said the couple had paid for the room with cash.
When deputies reviewed the hotel’s surveillance video, they saw a man and a woman enter the hotel. The man’s clothing matched the descriptions provided by the robbery victims.
Deputies then took Otto and the woman he was with into custody for questioning.
The woman, who lives with Otto in Fremont, said Otto took her out for dinner and drinks that night, which she described as unusual because he does not work and does not have any money.
After they finished eating at the truck stop, they went across the street to the Ramada because she did not feel safe with Otto driving.
She said they checked in at approximately 4 a.m. About 10 minutes later, she said Otto left the hotel room and did not return until nearly 6 a.m. She said his pants were wet when Otto returned and she assumed he had been stumbling around in the snow, according to the criminal complaint.
Officers executed a search warrant of Otto’s room where they found a black nylon face mask with a reddish-pink pattern on it, a pair of blue gloves, a black handgun that was actually an airsoft pistol, and a large amount of cash hidden inside the DVD/VCR.
They also located a pair of black pants that were wet and clothes that matched the descriptions provided by victims.
For more information about the robberies and the investigation, see this week’s Waupaca County Post.