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12.1.22 – Herald & Review – DECATUR

Police say accused Decatur robber Alex M. Wenskunas left a trail of clues that led right to him: he drove a bright red pickup truck and went shopping for a distinctive bandana he would use for a face mask 18 minutes later as he held-up a Mount Zion restaurant while armed with a knife.

Wenskunas, 33, has yet to enter a plea on charges filed against him by the office of the Macon County State’s Attorney alleging armed robbery and robbery.

His case came up in Macon County Circuit court Wednesday where Judge Rodney Forbes was informed by Macon County Jail staff that Wenskunas is ill with COVID-19 and is being held in medical isolation. Forbes rescheduled an arraignment hearing for Dec. 7.

A sworn affidavit filed by Mount Zion police said Wenskunas was arrested Nov. 22 after he was tracked down by investigative work. Detective Cory Janes, who signed the affidavit, said the trail began with video surveillance which captured images of the red pickup truck driven by the defendant. The affidavit doesn’t list police having the license number of the truck, identified as a 2004 Dodge Ram model, but noted features like a chrome bed-mounted toolbox and a loud after-market exhaust system.

Janes said Wenskunas fled in the vehicle on the night of Aug. 25 after menacing a female employee of the Subway restaurant at 110 Casa Park Drive in Mount Zion and emptying the register. He had walked into the restaurant at 8:46 p.m. to begin the robbery wearing the bandana and a baseball cap.

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Janes had worked the case the night of the robbery and said he was on patrol on the morning of Oct. 7 when he saw a very similar pickup truck traveling northbound on Illinois 121. The vehicle was pulled over for a traffic violation, Wenskunas was released with a written warning, and Janes said he began checking out the driver’s background.

In a strange twist, he said he came across a Moultrie County Sheriff’s Office report filed by Wenskunas, who had been living in Dalton City, claiming a pocket knife and $200 had been stolen from him on the same night as the Subway robbery.

Janes said the police report quoted Wenskunas as saying he had found the items stolen after returning from a shopping trip to the Walmart store at 4625 Maryland Street.

Janes pulled surveillance footage from Walmart which showed Wenskunas buying a pack of baby wipes and a black or dark blue bandana with a white pattern.

“A photo of the bandana was provided to me and it appears to be consistent with that of the one worn by the suspect at Subway,” Janes said. “Walmart also provided a still image of a red Dodge Ram truck that is seen with all the same characteristics of the one used in the robbery… Wenskunas is seen entering this vehicle and leaving the Walmart parking lot towards 121 at approximately 8:28 p.m.”

Janes said the drive from Walmart to the Subway is about five minutes and he said Wenskunas had driven straight there, got himself ready by using the bandana as a mask, and then set about robbing the restaurant.

The officer said police executed a search warrant at the defendant’s Decatur home on the morning of his arrest and found other items of clothing matching what the robber had been seen wearing in surveillance footage.

Janes said Wenskunas had then confessed to the crime. “Wenskunas stated that he took the money due to a gambling addiction and needed to make a rent payment,” the officer added. “Wenskunas stated that after the robbery, he went to a bar and gambled away the money at a video gaming machine.”

Wenskunas remained held in jail Thursday with bail set at $50,000, requiring him to post a bond of $5,000 to be released.