Centerville carjacking suspect caught in N.C.

CENTERVILLE — Authorities are holding a man in North Carolina in connection with the carjacking and kidnapping of an 87-year-old woman outside The Galleria in Centerville two weeks ago.

David Lee Cunningham, 50, was being held on a parole violation at the Cabarrus County, N.C., jail, said Centerville Public Safety Director Anthony B. Cooper. Pending are charges of kidnapping with bodily injury, carjacking, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, robbery by force and theft of a motor vehicle in the March 29 incident at the mall in Centerville, Cooper said.

Cunningham was taken into custody Wednesday by a fugitive task force and the Cabarrus County, N.C., Sheriff’s Office after the car stolen in the Centerville kidnapping turned up in Concord, N.C., Cooper said.

The stolen 1997 Buick Park Avenue was found in a church parking lot less than a mile from where Cunningham was staying, Cooper said.

A church member became suspicious after the car, which was missing its license plate, was parked at the church for a while, Cooper said.

Centerville police Sgt. Chuck Hadden and officer Mike Smith traveled to Concord early Wednesday morning to help local authorities and to recover any potential evidence related to the carjacking and kidnapping in Centerville, Cooper said.

Cunningham was identified as a potential suspect early on in the investigation and Centerville police have verified he stayed at a Budget Inn in Warner Robins on March 27 and March 28 on the eve of the carjacking and kidnapping, Cooper said.

Cunningham has a family member living in Warner Robins, Cooper said.

Cunningham was on parole for 1989 convictions in Houston County for kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault, theft of a motor vehicle and escape, according to the state Department of Corrections Web site.

He also had a theft by shoplifting conviction in 1998 from Fulton County, the Web site showed.

Nellie Robinson, of Warner Robins, was carjacked and kidnapped about 10:30 a.m. March 29 in the mall parking lot near Belk, said Centerville Police Chief Sidney Andrews.

Glenda Simpson, of Warner Robins, the victim’s niece, said Robinson was getting into her car after shopping at Belk.

Robinson was in her seat, had her key in the ignition and her door open as she was putting her purse down, Simpson said.

The carjacker shoved Robinson down and slipped into the driver’s seat, Simpson said.

Robinson was shoved so hard that her head went into the floorboard and her feet were near the console, Simpson said. The carjacker held her by her right arm as she screamed and struggled to get away, Simpson said.

“She was fighting him,” Simpson said. “She was screaming.”

Robinson’s arm was broken in the struggle, Simpson said.

The man drove her down Clever Road, a dirt road off U.S. 41, and robbed her — taking about $50 in cash from two bank envelopes she had in her purse, Simpson said. The man left her by the side of the road and drove off. Robinson walked along the road until she came to a subdivision, where she went to a house and police were called.

Simpson said she received word from the insurance company Tuesday that the car had been recovered.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 1-877-68CRIME or (478) 742-2330, or Hadden at (478) 953-4222.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.