In this episode of ‘The Evidence Room,’ we speak to the detective at the center of the case who at first didn’t believe teenage girls were behind a series of armed robberies.
All of the robberies took place from May until July 1999.
“They were totally covered with masks, hoodies, gloves, everything. You couldn’t tell if they were white, Black, Hispanic, Asian, you couldn’t, tell anything,” says Lee County Precinct 3 Constable Billy Stephens.
Stephens was a robbery detective with the Houston Police Department before he retired.
Since the robbers were covered head-to-toe, Stephens said their voices became a key point in the investigation.
“The voices,” Stephens said. “To me, it sounded like little boys. You don’t have girl hijackers. It’s highly, highly unusual. And when I could hear the voices in the videotapes, it was like, these are little boys that hadn’t reached puberty. You know, I’m thinking, this is juveniles, little kids, you know.”
Ringleader Krystal Maddox, Katie Dunn, Malissa Warzeka, and Michelle Morneau start bragging about the robberies, which put police on their trail.
“They did girl things. They went shopping, they went to the movies, they did all the stuff little girls do,” said Stephens. “I’m like, this can’t be them.”
Stephens realized he was wrong about who was behind by these robberies after asking a Kingwood High School teacher to listen to one of the surveillance videos of the robberies. Stephens said that teacher recognized one of the girls’ voices immediately.
During each of their cases, the teenagers hoped for probation.
“Spare me your tears,” Texas State District Judge Mark Ellis would tell Malissa Warzeka and Katie Dunn. “You made a choice and that choice was to be thugs. To go out and take money at gunpoint and terrorize these people.”
The judge would go on to tell Maddox, “Everyone in this courtroom is here because of you and the choices you made last summer. On May the 30th, July the 1st, July the 4th, July the 5th, and July the 10th, you made a choice. Despite all the advantages you had in your home, in your school, and in your community, you made a choice, and that choice was to be a queen. A queen of aggravated robbery.”
The four ‘Queens of Aggravated Robbery’ are free to live their lives now. Constable Stephens hopes this can be a lesson for all.
“They were young kids doing stupid stuff, and they paid the price. They went to jail. They did their probation. They have done everything that is required of them,” he said. “I hope they are married. They have kids. They have a normal life, you know, and not still doing silly stuff.”
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