Houston & Peach

Missouri woman indicted in kidnapping of Perry convenience store clerk

Video: Perry convenience store clerk kidnapped by modern-day Bonnie & Clyde

A Perry convenience store clerk was kidnapped at gunpoint on Feb 1, 2016 by a Missouri couple wanted by authorities for a string of similar incidents elsewhere.
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A Perry convenience store clerk was kidnapped at gunpoint on Feb 1, 2016 by a Missouri couple wanted by authorities for a string of similar incidents elsewhere.

A Missouri woman accused of helping to kidnap a 19-year-old convenience store clerk has been indicted by a Houston County grand jury.

Brittany Nicole Harper, 28, of Joplin, Missouri, survived a shootout with police Feb. 5 near Milton, Florida, that ended a weeklong crime spree across the South. Her partner in crime and boyfriend, Blake Fitzgerald, died in the exchange of gunfire with Florida authorities. Harper suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.

On Feb. 1, Harper was allegedly part of the armed robbery and kidnapping of the clerk at Murphy Express at 1429 Sam Nunn Blvd. The clerk was later dropped off unharmed at the Unadilla exit south of Perry.

Harper was indicted Tuesday on one count of armed robbery, one count of kidnapping and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

According to a Perry police report, Fitzgerald walked into the store shortly after 11 p.m., got a Mountain Dew out of a cooler and walked to the counter as if he were going to pay for the drink.

But instead, Fitzgerald pulled out a silver handgun, took $160 from the cash register and ordered the clerk into a stolen 2010 Silver Ford Edge. Harper was lying down in the back seat, according to the report.

Perry authorities first became aware of the abduction when Houston County 911 started receiving calls of a clerk missing from behind the counter of a convenience store.

"Concerned citizens had gone in and noticed the clerk was missing and the cash register was open and called 911," Perry Police Chief Steve Lynn said.

Shortly afterward, police received a call from the Dooly County Sheriff's Office that a clerk who said she'd been kidnapped in Perry had been dropped off at Exit 121, Lynn said.

Harper is being held out of state and is expected to be extradited back to Houston County for trial.

In addition to the Perry incident, Harper and Fitzgerald were wanted in a string of robberies and abductions in Alabama and Florida.

The night of Feb. 4, a chase ensued after an armed robbery at a shoe store in Pensacola, Florida. Authorities lost sight of the couple for a couple of hours. During that time, the couple was accused of holding a Pensacola family hostage before stealing their pickup. The next afternoon, authorities spotted the stolen vehicle with the couple inside on Interstate 10 and followed it down a dirt road near Milton, Florida, where the shootout occurred.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559, or find her on Twitter@becpurser.

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