PERRY -- A Houston County grand jury Tuesday indicted a man and woman each on a single count of robbery by sudden snatching about $130 from a lemonade stand set up by the cousin of an ailing toddler and her friends.
Amber Michelle Umbarger, 21, and Gage Allen Turner, 20, both of Warner Robins, are accused of the April 9 lemonade heist at 198 Smithville Church Road.
Chelsea Edwards and her friends had set up the lemonade stand to raise money for medical treatment for 2-year-old Logan Varnadoe, who was born with one-third of a typical newborn’s brain mass.
Joshua Morrison, an assistant public defender representing Umbarger, said in an interview that Umbarger was aware that Turner was possibly going to take the money, but that she tried to signal to him not to take the money by asking the girls questions about the purpose of raising the funds.
“Turner has made it clear to the police that Amber didn’t rob anyone,” Morrison stated in an e-mail. “When he was arrested, he said Amber didn’t have anything to do with taking money from the lemonade stand.
“After he snatched the money jar, she was left at the scene holding a cup of lemonade,” Morrison said in the e-mail. “This is an awful situation. We hope the community continues to rally around Logan Varnadoe.”
According to the Houston County sheriff’s incident report, Umbarger and Turner pulled up along a street near the girls’ lemonade stand that Saturday afternoon in Umbarger’s white 2010 Hyundai Accent. Umbarger was driving and Turner was in the passenger seat. Umbarger parked the car on Laramie Drive near Smithville Church Road, the report stated.
Umbarger and Turner approached the lemonade stand. Umbarger bought a cup of lemonade, while Turner reached for a flier about the fundraising effort for Logan with one hand and reached for the glass jar containing the donations with the other, according to the report.
With the jar of donations he grabbed from Edwards, Turner fled on foot to the car and took off, leaving Umbarger, the report stated. Umbarger walked away. One of the girls told authorities that Umbarger had pretended like she did not know what was going on.
Umbarger was picked up by a sheriff’s deputy walking along Byrd Way at Osigian Boulevard shortly after the incident. She was taken by a sheriff’s deputy back to the lemonade stand where she was identified by the girls, according to the report. The girls were shown a photo of Turner and identified him.
Turner was arrested about 3 a.m. April 12 at a vacant apartment after a tip to police. He was being held Tuesday in the Houston County jail.
Umbarger is free on a $1,500 bond pending trial. Morrison noted that Umbarger was not a flight risk and that she had no criminal record other than a driving on a suspended license conviction. Her license was suspended for failing to pay a speeding ticket, he said.
Morrison noted that Umbarger had gone back to the lemonade stand and said she would try to get the money back. She also called Turner on his cell phone in an attempt to get him to return the money, Morrison said.
Russell Walker, a Perry attorney representing Turner, could not be reached immediately for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Since the incident, donations have poured in for the toddler.