Holly Specht, Bernadette Perry: Arrested in connection with purse snatching, stabbing

PORT ST. LUCIE — A Thursday tip from a woman who saw news coverage of a Tuesday robbery and stabbing at a Walmart Supercenter helped police arrest two women in connection with the incidents, according to Port St. Lucie police and records.

Marie Whiteley, 65, was loading groceries about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday at a Walmart Supercenter in St. Lucie West when a woman approached with a knife and said she didn't want to hurt her, but was going to steal her purse.

Whiteley gave up her purse, and the woman fled, though was tackled by 29-year-old Shawn Cox, who wound up getting stabbed in the neck. The woman drove off in a Dodge pickup, and Cox got stitches in the neck.

Port St. Lucie police Wednesday provided news outlets with video surveillance of the incident, and a tipster called 911 Thursday and identified Bernadette Perry, 47, as the person "she saw on the news."

The tipster gave Perry's address in the Lake Charles community, but said she'd been trying to help arrange to drop Perry at a bus stop in Fort Pierce. She said Perry told her she was "going back home to Michigan."

Meanwhile, police saw a Dodge pickup matching the description of the truck used in the Walmart incident on Southwest Crosstown Parkway.

Police stopped the truck, which was driven by 41-year-old Holly Rae Specht, of the 1300 block of Southeast Proctor Lane in Port St. Lucie. Perry and a man were passengers.

Perry, who eventually was arrested on charges including attempted felony murder, armed robbery and aggravated battery, told police she and Specht planned to commit a robbery to get money to buy crack cocaine.

She said Specht, who was arrested on an armed robbery charge, dropped her in front of the Walmart , where she took Whiteley's purse and ran.

Perry said she was tackled and "wasn't going to go down." She said she's a "black belt" and started slashing.

She said Specht picked her up and they bought crack in Fort Pierce before going to Specht's home.

Specht said she saw blood on Perry's tank top and said Perry was "very hyper." They drove north on Interstate 95 and exited on Midway Road.

Specht said Perry threw the cell phone and purse out the window, but kept a credit card because they had no gas.

They drove to Orange Avenue and North 25th Street in Fort Pierce, where they found a man they knew sold crack.

Because the purse had no money, Specht said Perry wanted to stab the man. Instead, they used a green wrapper from a feminine hygiene product and folded it up.

"Through the open window, the male handed her a 'crack rock' and she gave him the paper," an affidavit states.

The man noticed it wasn't money and punched Perry.

They drove to a gas station at U.S. 1 and Edwards Road in Fort Pierce, where they met a man. He asked whether they'd drive him to another gas station and agreed to give them money for gas.

Specht said Perry noticed the man had a "wad" of money and wanted to rob him, but they didn't. They bought $5 in gas at another gas station and drove back to Specht's home.

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