Suspect Falls Overboard, Plans Washed Up

Cruise Criminals Caught After Robberies

By Mike Valerio, Reporter
POSTED: 2:22 PM Aug 09 2012   UPDATED: 8:22 AM Aug 07 2012
SNEADS FERRY -

A plan to plunder an Onslow County cruise boat and a fishing vessel sent one man overboard Saturday morning, as surveillance cameras captured the crime unfolding.

Deputy Weldon Ferrell, Jr. arrested Zachary Connelly, 19, and Charles Benjamin Williams, 25, near Fulcher Landing Road in Sneads Ferry. According to Sheriff Ed Brown, one of the suspects was soaking wet, both of them holding on to bottles of liquor.

Ferrell was patrolling the Sneads Ferry waterfront around 4:00 a.m., and took the suspects into custody before two boat owners realized they were robbed.

Surveillance video recorded two men scouting the docks around two boats, the Southern Belle, a 65 ft. cruise boat, and the Sea Horse, a 41 ft. sport fishing vessel. The men are seen removing a flat-screen TV from the "Belle," as well as two bottles of Crown Royal and Jack Daniels whiskey.

Eric Brinson, owner of the cruise boat, said the men were drunk during the course of the robbery. Video frames show a suspect spilling a case of beer on the dock, and one of the men fell overboard.

"He thought he was stepping out of the door that lead to the dock," Brinson said Monday. "But instead, he was on the wrong side of the boat, and fell into the water."

On a second surveillance camera, a man is seen emerging from the dark water, struggling to climb back over a fence. Brinson said he further suspects the men were heavily intoxicated because steps leading back to the dock were a few feet away.

Before the suspects entered the Southern Belle, warrants state the men stole a VHF Radio and 185 piece Husky mechanic tool box from the fishing boat.

The two were charged with felony conspiracy, as well as two counts each of breaking /entering a boat and possession of stolen goods /property. They were placed in the Onslow County Jail in Jacksonville under a $90,000 bond each.

The suspects are both from Johnston County, southeast of Raleigh. Sheriff Brown said the two men were in Sneads Ferry last weekend visiting friends who live in the area.

The next court date set for Connelly and Williams is August 27.