City man remains jailed on kidnapping, robbery charges
Jan 29, 2013 (Reading Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A Reading man accused of forcing a Muhlenberg Township woman at knifepoint to drive him to the city after he tried to rob a township supermarket has waived a preliminary hearing on a lengthy list of charges.
John F. Topper, 30, of the 200 block of South Third Street and formerly of Wernersville, was returned to Berks County Prison on a parole violation after his appearance Monday before District Judge Dean R. Patton in Muhlenberg Township. The charges include robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, making terroristic threats, access device fraud and related counts.
Police said On Jan. 16, according to Muhlenberg police, Topper went on a crime spree that began when he entered the Giant Food store about 5:15 a.m. while brandishing a knife.
Investigators gave this further account:
Topper had a knife and demanded money from a female cashier at Giant Food store, 4320 N. Fifth Street Highway, Jan. 16 about 5:15 a.m. A male employee confronted Topper, who ran from the store empty-handed.
Topper got into a taxi outside the store and forced the cabbie to drive away. He held a knife to the back of the driver's head and tried to rob him.
Patrolman Erik Schwendeman was on his way to the attempted holdup at the store when he saw the taxi near Wilson Street and Fifth Street Highway. Schwendeman notified other officers and followed the taxi until the driver stopped, got out and ran toward the officer with his hands in the air.
Topper got out of the cab and escaped.
Police later learned Topper had hidden in the back of a car parked outside a house in the 400 block of Eisenbrown Street. He held a knife to a woman's neck when she came out of her home and got into the car about 7:40 a.m.
Topper forced her to drive him to Eighth and Franklin streets. He took her credit cards before leaving the car.
Topper, a convicted bank robber, was paroled in mid-December after serving the minimum of a five- to 10-year state prison sentence, according to court records. He had pleaded guilty to robbing Sovereign Bank, 610 Penn St., of $476 from on Jan. 11, 2007, and National Penn Bank, 21 N. Sixth St., of $2,010 the following day.
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