Dundalk man charged in nine robberies in Harford, five in Baltimore County

PIKESVILLE – A Dundalk man, who was arrested Wednesday night in connection with more than a dozen robberies in Baltimore and Harford counties, according to Maryland State Police, was ordered held without bond during a bail review hearing Friday afternoon.

John Joseph Wilson, 54, of the 2900 block of Dunbrin Road, is believed to be the man behind nine robberies in the Fallston and Bel Air areas, including three robberies of the Benson Post Office, the most recent of which was Oct. 5, state police and Harford County law enforcement officials said during a press conference at state police headquarters.

He was arrested at his home without incident at 6:07 p.m., police said.

In Harford County, he is believed to have robbed Madison Square Bank in the 2200 block of Belair Road in Fallston on Sept. 30, 2010 and Dec. 10, 2012; Sovereign Bank in the 1800 block of Emmorton Road in Bel Air on Dec. 17, 2012, and April 27; and the Benson Post Office in the 100 block of Connolly Road on Dec. 12, 2012, April 27 and Oct. 5, Harford County Sheriff's Office spokesman Edward Hopkins said.

Harford County Assistant State's Attorney Mark Meehan, based on the suspect's previous convictions, asked the court during Friday afternoon's hearing to hold Wilson without bail. According to court records, Wilson has 11 prior offenses resulting in 5 convictions.

"If there were ever a danger to the community, this is it," said Meehan during the bail hearing. District Court Judge Mimi Cooper agreed and ordered Wilson held without bail.

Wilson was represented by a public defender at Friday's bail review hearing. Right after the bail review, his public defender would neither comment on Wilson's case nor give her name.

The Sheriff's Office said Wilson may have been connected with a Sept. 6 robbery of Liberty Bank at Harford Mall, but the Bel Air Police Department could not confirm that.

Wilson is also suspected of five supermarket robberies in Baltimore County over the course of three years. Col. Marcus Brown, secretary of Maryland State Police did not have available a list of those robberies, but said a Mars supermarket had been a target.

The suspect was known for wearing a hat and pony tail in the Harford robberies. His method of operation was brandishing a handgun and jumping over the counter to rifle through money, Brown said.

After the most recent Benson Post Office robbery on Oct. 5, a witness tried to apprehend Wilson as he fled, getting a good look at the suspect, Brown said.

Wilson allegedly fired a shot at the witness in that case.

Police were able to use that evidence, as well as plenty of video surveillance, to identify him, Brown said.

Frank Schissler, a U.S. postal inspector, called the joint investigation "a great success" and said the arrest was "a result of good, old-fashioned police work."

Brown said he felt "investigators did a fantastic job in this case."

"The good part about this case is Mr. Wilson had a long history of commercial robberies in the Maryland area," Brown said.

Doug Verzi, an investigator with the Harford County Sheriff's Office, added: "We were able to close out many of our commercial robberies as well, most of them being banks."

"It turned out to be a very intense investigation," he said.

Brown said police do not know yet why Wilson might have targeted the post office, other than it may have been an opportune location.

He said Wilson was brazen enough to keep committing the robberies over the years.

"He was just successful at doing it and he kept doing it," Brown said.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5.

He is charged in Harford County with four counts each of armed robbery, using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime and first- and second-degree assault as well as attempted first-degree murder, six counts of robbery, three counts of theft between $1,000 and $10,000, one count of theft less than $1,000 and one count of scheming to commit theft up to $100,000, Hopkins said.

According to his public defender, Wilson is married and completed two years of college at Dundalk Community College. Wilson served in the army for four years and was honorably discharged in 1980. Wilson was employed as a welder for 16 years.

Aegis reporter Krishana Davis contributed to this article.

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