Police arrest suspect in purse-snatching case

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published February 14, 2020

 Victoria Murrell

Victoria Murrell

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MADISON HEIGHTS — A Hazel Park woman could face up to 15 years in prison on a charge of unarmed robbery, after she allegedly knocked over a senior citizen while stealing her purse.

Victoria Murrell, 36, was arraigned Feb. 2 in Madison Heights 43rd District Court before Magistrate Kimberly Wilson. In addition to the unarmed robbery charge, Murrell was also charged with one misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license, punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. Murrell’s case was bound over to Oakland County Circuit Court Feb. 12.

“There’s not much that I can say at this point,” said Fred Miller, her court-appointed attorney. “This is a tragic incident, and hopefully we can resolve it.”    

The victim was an 85-year-old woman from Warren, who was returning to her vehicle in the parking lot of the Meijer store located at 1005 E. 13 Mile Road in Madison Heights. The incident occurred around 3 p.m. Jan. 31, when Murrell allegedly approached the victim, who was pushing a shopping cart with her purse in it, the strap wrapped around the victim’s arm. In attempting to snatch the purse, the victim was knocked to the ground, causing minor bruising.

Murrell then reportedly fled in a gold Dodge Stratus, heading west on 13 Mile Road, as told to 911 dispatch by an eyewitness at the scene. A Hazel Park police officer then observed the suspect vehicle driving south on Interstate 75. The police officer stopped the vehicle about 20 minutes after the incident had initially been reported. The purse reportedly was in the car. Murrell allegedly told police that she had fallen on tough financial times and had stolen the purse out of desperation.  

Madison Heights Police Lt. Michael Siladke said that the suspect showed no resistance and that the contents of the purse were still intact. The purse was returned to the victim, who was treated by the Madison Heights Fire Department in the Meijer parking lot.

Siladke said the crime was one of opportunity.

“Everyone should be reminded to be aware of their surroundings and keep any valuables, including purses, secure on their person,” Siladke said. “When parking a vehicle, it should be done with awareness to time of day and security. For example, is it a lighted area? Are your keys in hand? Are there any other people around?

Siladke also commended the witnesses who reported the incident.

“Their efforts ultimately were key in getting assistance for the victim and arresting the suspect,” Siladke said. “The proactive response of a Hazel Park police officer should also be recognized in the identification and detainment of this suspect. This incident demonstrates the effectiveness of communication and participation between the Madison Heights Police Department and our neighboring law enforcement partners.”

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