Apparently unaware of a police vehicle that coincidentally was parked a few yards away,Crystal Jane McElroy called 911 from the parking lot of a Little Caesars in North Phoenix to report getting stabbed and robbed of $4,341.
McElroy told dispatchers that she left the building about 10 a.m. with the restaurant's cash to make a bank deposit and was walking in the parking lot when a generic white man — about 40 and wearing jeans and a gray shirt — walked up to her and stabbed her in the side.
She said he then grabbed the Little Caesars deposit bag containing the moneyand ran away.
Seven officers and Phoenix Fire Department personnel were dispatched to the scene.
While some investigators went out to search for the alleged assailant, others, including Officer Robert Stewart — who'd been in the nearby police vehicle for at least 15 minutes before McElroy’s 911 call — stayed behind to gather more information.
“I was parked in the [lot] just a few yards away from the Little Caesars and never saw anything...such as armed robbery,” Stewart wrote in a police report.
Literally, he emphasized, “I was right there the entire time."
After listening to the details of McElroy's story, it was obvious to Stewart “that things were not adding up."
For starters, she had little more than a scratch on her body, and it hardly looked like a stab wound.
When an officer asked McElroy if cops could search her purse, she handed it over willingly. Inside was $869 in cash, which she said had come from her previous paycheck.
She was then asked if investigators could search her car, and once again, she gave permission.
“While the officers were looking in her car, she reached in and gathered some clothes from the interior of the vehicle,” Stewart stated."[She] also grabbed the empty, [supposedly] missing Little Caesars moneybag and tried to hide it in the clothes as the officers were watching.”
By now, the cops had no doubt that she was making the whole thing up.
After McElroy was read her Miranda rights, she admitted that, yes, “it was...the bag that [she] said the fake suspect had taken from her when he stabbed and robbed her in the parking lot,” Stewart related.
She went on to say that she made up the whole story so that she could steal the $4,341 and help her cousin pay off a $5,000 debt to a drug dealer.
Minutes before calling police to report the robbery, McElroy later admitted, she had met with the dealer in the Little Caesars parking lot and handed over the money.
Stewart arrested her, and she was booked into a Maricopa County jail on suspicion of theft and lying to law enforcement.
The Little Caesar's proprietor declined to comment on whether McElroy will retain her position at the restaurant, and it was unclear if her alleged cousin had secured the other $700 to pay off any drug dealer.