Police: Genetic evidence ties suspect to another hold-up

SNOHOMISH — The clothes a suspected robber shed during his getaway may be his undoing.

Detectives say genetic evidence ties the man arrested for an armed robbery at a Lake Steven espresso stand to an unsolved hold-up at a Snohomish market.

Prosecutors have charged Clinton Wheelock, 29, with first-degree robbery for both incidents. He was being held on $150,000 bail.

The Snohomish robbery happened Oct. 12 at Baker’s Mini-Mart. The suspect came in wearing a black hoodie pulled up around his head. He slid the hood off, revealing a ski mask over his face. He pulled a gun on the clerk and ordered her to open the cash register. He grabbed money from the till and a bank bag containing more cash and lottery tickets.

A police dog tracked the robbery suspect to a parking lot behind the mini-mart, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter wrote. Officers found a ski mask on the ground. The dog lost the robber’s trail.

The mask was sent to the Washington State Patrol crime lab for analysis. Scientist found DNA on the material but the genetic evidence didn’t match any samples in the state’s database.

Two months later a masked man with a handgun robbed a barista at a Lake Stevens coffee stand. A police dog tracked a bare-chested Wheelock to a nearby culvert, court papers said. Police discovered a discarded hat, sweatshirt, gun, gloves and T-shirt leading up to the ditch. The pistol turned out to be a BB gun. The barista recognized the hat and gun as those used by the robber, Hunter wrote.

Those items were sent to the state crime lab for DNA testing. A genetic profile was submitted to the state database. It allegedly matched the DNA recovered from the discarded ski mask in Snohomish, court papers said.

Police have collected a sample of Wheelock’s DNA for comparison.

Wheelock allegedly admitted he was in the Snohomish mini-mart in the past but denied robbing the store. He asked for a lawyer when he was confronted with the DNA evidence, Hunter wrote.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley.

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