SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – A husband and wife are in custody Thursday as authorities are investigating them for several armed robberies in Spokane and parts of the state of Oregon.
Authorities said Joshua Luther and his wife Michelle Luther are suspected of committing armed robberies in both Washington state and Oregon. Both were arrested on October 25 during a shooting and pursuit with police in Tualatin, Oregon.
Officials began to piece things together following an armed robbery at a motel in Portland, but one of the first incidents happened in Spokane on October 18.
Around 10:48 p.m. Spokane County deputies got a call about an armed robbery at a Pizza Hut located on South Pines in Spokane Valley. The manager said a suspect was dressed in all black and had a chrome Halloween-type skeleton mask on their face and gloves. The suspect had a gun and witnesses said they believed the suspect was a man because of the voice. The suspect fled on foot.
Two days later on October 20, shortly after Noon, deputies got a call about an armed robbery at the Trade-A-Game located on East Sprague in Spokane Valley. According to the original report, the suspect was wearing a striped short-sleeved dress shirt over a dark colored hooded sweatshirt with a chrome Halloween-type mask over their face. The suspect had a gun and again witnesses said they believed the suspect was a man. The suspect fled in a white minivan, where witnesses also said the driver appeared to be a man.
On October 23 around 10:30 a.m. The Dalles Police Department in The Dalles, Oregon, got a call about an armed robbery at a gas station located on West 6th Avenue in The Dalles. Authorities said this time, two suspects held up the gas station by gunpoint and demanded money, which they were given. Both suspects had Halloween-type pumpkin masks on. Witnesses said the suspects were one man and one woman and that they fled the scene after.
On October 25, just before 10:30 a.m., witnesses said a white man wearing a dark colored ski mask held up a motel located on Southwest 30th Avenue in Portland, Oregon. The suspect had a gun and got away with $70.00, authorities said. A witness followed the man who fled in a white minivan to Tigard, Oregon.
Shortly after, Joshua and Michelle were arrested following a shootout with police during a pursuit. Authorities said Joshua was shooting at them while Michelle was driving. They were arrested in Tualatin, Oregon. Detectives working the gas station robbery in Dalles learned of this incident and compared notes. That led to them getting a search warrant for the minivan, where they found receipts for items purchased in Spokane County.
On November 1, detectives contacted Spokane Co. deputies and informed them they had the Luther’s in custody. During their search they discovered that Joshua Luther had been in Spokane on or around October 11 for a court date, and also found a gun in the minivan that matched the description of what witnesses in the Spokane robberies had seen.
The receipts detectives found were for a Walmart, a Kmart and a smoke shop. As Spokane County deputies investigated they discovered that purchases of Halloween-type clothing had been bought at a Walmart located on East Sprague on October 20, the day of the Trade-A-Game robbery. The Walmart these items were purchased at is about four blocks west of the Trade-A-Game, authorities said.
Through surveillance videos, detectives observed Michelle Luther arriving at a Walmart alone on foot walking from the Costco parking lot about two hours after the Trade-A-Game robbery. The original report said the suspect in the Trade-A-Game robbery fled to the east. Officials said Costco is about two blocks east of the Trade-A-Game and Walmart is to the west. Video shows Michelle leaving the Walmart and walk south until she approaches a fence where she looks around briefly before walking through a hole in it.
When detectives interviewed the Pizza Hut employees from the robbery on October 18, they said when the suspect spoke it appeared they were trying to alter their voice. They said it was as if the suspect was trying to sound a little deeper than normal.
Investigators said despite some of the witnesses claims that the suspect was possibly a man, other facts and circumstances exist that lead them to believe it was Michelle perpetrating the robberies and Joshua acted as the getaway driver.
(© 2016 KREM)