Kansas: Three charged in Taco Bell death robbery
Wichita The husband of a woman robbed at a fast-food drive-thru as she lay dying said last week that it felt as though the thieves had “stuck a knife in and twisted it” when they took his unconscious wife’s purse and wedding ring.
Kris Zimmerman learned about the robbery from police at the hospital. He said it amplified an already unspeakable tragedy in a case that has sparked widespread outrage in this Kansas community.
“It is a bad wound anyway,” Zimmerman said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “You are having to deal with the tragedy of losing your wife at such a young age, but then it was like they stuck a knife in and twisted it: ‘Really, somebody robbed her when she was like that?’”
The three 19-year-old Wichita men charged with robbery in the case, Daquantrius S. Johnson; Quanique D. Thomas-Hameen; and Keith Byron Hickles, made their first court appearance Jan. 8 in Sedgwick County Court via video link from the jail. Their bonds were set at $200,000 each.
Defense attorneys did not immediately return phone messages left at their offices. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 23 in the case.
Danielle Zimmerman was pulling into a Taco Bell on Dec. 29 when she suffered the brain aneurysm, causing her truck to hit a speaker in the drive-through lane. While unconscious in her car, someone took her purse with $150 and her credit cards in it, a cellphone and wedding ring. The 43-year-old Wichita woman died at a local hospital the following day.
Danielle Zimmerman’s purse was later recovered after some children found it while sledding, but the search continues for her wedding ring. The couple had been married for 21 years and had dated for four years before then. They have two sons, ages 13 and 18. The stolen wedding ring holds sentimental value for the family, Zimmerman said.
“Even though they lost their mother and I’ve lost my wife, but, you know, it seems like something is still missing,” he said. “It seems that it would bring some closure to this tragic event once we can get that back, if we can get it back.”
The family got some unexpected help Jan. 7 on the search for the missing ring from Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer. The mayor, speaking at a televised city council meeting, made a passionate plea to residents for help finding Danielle Zimmerman’s stolen wedding ring. He implored the audience to call police with any information about the crime or the whereabouts of the ring.
“It’s horrible. That is all you can say. It’s horrible,” Brewer said. “It’s taking low to a whole new level.”
The arrests of the three suspects on Friday and Monday followed a tip to the Wichita Crime Commission’s Crime Stoppers tip line. The commission had offered a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrests of the persons involved in the robbery.
“This crime diminishes us as a community,” said Gordon Bassham, executive director of the Wichita Crime Commission. “It diminishes our reputation in the eyes of other communities and it makes people feel bad about the kind of people that live among us.”
Bassham said many people in the community are talking about how this is a heinous crime.
“We are not worthy of that bad reputation,” he said. “Wichita is made up of good people, good law-abiding people. The fact the crime was solved so quickly through Crime Stoppers is proof of that.”