MySpace tip leads to bank robbery arrests

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 2010

Photos posted on MySpace led to the identification and arrest of the couple believed to be responsible for bank robberies in Florala, East Brewton and Flomaton.

Florala Chief Sonny Bedsole said the two – identified as 30-year-old Jerry Hover Tinsley of Rutherfordton, N.C., and 30-year-old Rhianna Marie Jones believed to be of Ft. Walton, Fla. – were located inside a Destin, Fla., Motel 6 late Thursday night.

Bedsole said Covington County Sheriff’s Office investigator Greg Jackson received the tip from a confidential informant and was able to confirm the couple’s identity using photos posted on the popular social networking site, MySpace.

That information was immediately forwarded to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office’s Fugitive Warrants Unit, who had units in the hotel parking lot “within five minutes,” Jackson said.

“Our informant was able to tell us who (the alleged bank robbers) were and where they were staying,” Jackson said. “It was the key component we had been needing to solve this case, and all thanks to the outstanding working relationship between all the agencies.”

The pair was spotted leaving the motel around 11:15 p.m. in a gold Chevrolet Impala; however, when law enforcement tried to apprehend the couple, a high-speed chase ensued with speeds up to 80 mph. The chase ended on a dead end street and concluded with Tinsley’s arrest. Jones allegedly fled from the scene on foot but was taken into custody a short time later.

Bedsole said he was told drugs, later identified as cocaine and Oxycotin, were found in Tinsley’s possession.

The pair is currently being housed in the Okaloosa County Jail and will face a federal grand jury in Mobile next week for the robberies in East Brewton and Flomaton.

As for the Florala bank robbery, Bedsole said he plans to charge the couple with second-degree robbery.

“Our charges will go through the Circuit Court here in Covington County,” he said. “I don’t have an explanation at this time why all three cases aren’t being presented at the same time. We are still in the process of trying to coordinate all of our information to determine what’s what.

“We have spoken with (Tinsley and Jones), and they have confessed,” he said.

In each of the robberies, the duo passed a handwritten note to the teller demanding money. Witnesses were able to describe only vague descriptions of a white male and his female counterpart with a tattoo on her neck.

And as for that tattoo, Jackson said it read, “R, I guess for Rhianna, and a picture of an iguana.”