2 men charged in beating, robbery of 81-year-old Korean War vet

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Zachary Hails / John Reeves

WEST VINCENT TWP., Pa. (WPVI) -- Two men have been charged in the beating and robbery of an 81-year-old Korean War veteran in Chester County.

27-year-old Zachary Hails of Pottstown, Pa. and 24-year-old John Reeves of Stowe, Pa. have been charged with robbery, conspiracy, terroristic threats, simple assault, and related offenses.

"These cowardly criminals targeted an elderly man living alone because they thought of him as a vulnerable victim. They terrorized a peaceful and law-abiding citizen to fuel their need for drugs. This was an assault not only on the victim, but on our way of life in Chester County. We will not stand for it," Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement.

The D.A. says the victim had employed Hails as an appliance repairman shortly before the robbery.

Hails and Reeves, both described by the District Attorney's Office as drug addicts, then hatched a plan to steal money from the victim.

On July 26, 2015, officials say the victim, a widower, was alone in his home in West Vincent Township when he answered a knock on his door around 7:15 p.m.

The D.A. says a male wearing a dark baseball cap said there was a problem with water in the basement. The male, later identified as Reeves, pushed his way through the front door, grabbed the victim by the arms, and demanded to know where the money was kept.

The D.A. says Reeves then shoved the victim onto the bed in his bedroom and covered him with blankets. He threatened to shoot the victim if he moved from the bed. Reeves then rifled through the drawers in the bedroom. Reeves punched the victim in the head and torso, before running from the house.

Hails was waiting for Reeves in a vehicle outside the home.

The suspects took approximately $400 in cash, a laptop computer, prescription pain medication, credit cards, and jewelry belonging to the victim's late wife.

After the robbery, the D.A. says the suspects drove to the Kensington section of Philadelphia to buy heroin with the stolen money.

Through investigation by the West Vincent Police and the Chester County Detectives, it was determined Hails' vehicle was seen in the area of the victim's home at the time of the robbery.

Phone records established contact between the two suspects prior to the robbery.

The D.A. says cell phone tower information put the suspects at the victim's home during the robbery, then in Kensington.

"The Chester County Detectives and West Vincent Police Department were dogged in their determination to track down these defendants. Chester County law enforcement understands that we have a special duty to protect children and the elderly because of their vulnerability," Hogan said.

The suspects are currently incarcerated at Chester County Prison on $150,000 cash bail each.

Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for October 8.