published Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Dalton police charge 3 with robbery

From left to right: Tiffany Whitton, Casey Cantrell and Tracy Chambers. The women are suspected of breaking into a home in Dalton, Georgia.
From left to right: Tiffany Whitton, Casey Cantrell and Tracy Chambers. The women are suspected of breaking into a home in Dalton, Georgia.

Three women and a man are suspected of breaking into a home and threatening another woman with a stick and a tire iron before stealing her purse, Dalton, Ga., police say.

Police arrested 24-year-old Casey Cantrell, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., and Tiffany Whitton, of Dalton, on Wednesday on warrants related to a March 7 armed robbery, said Dalton Police Department spokesman Bruce Frazier said.

Tracy Chambers, 43, of Dalton, was arrested last week in connection with the break-in, he said.

Whitton and Cantrell were charged with robbery, while Chambers was charged with armed robbery, Frazier said. All three women have multiple other charges from the incident, including burglary, he said.

“I’d say it’s unusual to have three females involved with an armed robbery,” Frazier said. “[But] these people knew each other.”’

Police have issued a warrant for Cantrell’s boyfriend, Matthew Stone, on charges of burglary and armed robbery, Frazier said.

Police believe the three women and Stone showed up at 939 Avenue F and demanded that resident Melody McElrath open the door, Frazier said. McElrath said she recognized one of the female voices as that of Whitton, and she ran to hide in the bathroom, according to Frazier.

The front door was kicked in and someone began to bang on the bathroom door with a tire iron, he said. One of the women also had a stick, he said.

At this point, McElrath’s husband, who was not in the bathroom with her, ran out of the house, Frazier said. The man called police and the suspects left, taking McElrath’s purse from the couch, Frazier said.

When Whitton was questioned, she told police that they had run into McElrath in the Walmart parking lot early that day and she had gotten into the car with them, Frazier said.

Whitton claimed that McElrath stole $60 from her purse while in the car and that’s why they went to McElrath’s house.

Investigators believe the money may not have been stolen but could have been part of a drug deal for pills that weren’t delivered, Frazier said.

While police have been getting reports of heavy drug-related activity on Avenue F and near the Dalton Recreation Center, police think the armed break-in at McElrath’s residence was an isolated incident, Dalton police Lt. Chris Cooke said.

Most of the drug traffic in the area involves prescription drugs, methamphetamine and marijuana, he said.

“There is a lot of drug activity in that area,” Cooke said. “We don’t have anybody doing [random] home invasions.”

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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