By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Two women who allegedly tried to rob several seniors in downtown Haverhill because “they would not fight back” were arraigned in Haverhill District Court yesterday, and held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing.
Haverhill police detectives arrested the two women — Michelle Legault, 35, of 647 Berry River Road, Barrington, N.H., and Lisa Wallace, 46, of 64 Laurel Ave., Bradford — around noon on Wednesday.
Assistant District Attorney Stephen Patten said the women robbed six elderly victims, ranging in age from 60 to 81, because they thought they were “easy targets” and the women needed the money to fuel their severe heroin habits.
Legault was charged with one count of attempting to commit a crime, four counts of armed assault to rob a person over the age of 65, armed robbery and sexual conduct for a fee. Wallace was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, four counts conspiracy to commit armed assault with intent to rob a person over the age of 65, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and deriving support from prostitution.
Attorney Joseph Gannon was appointed to represent Legault and Attorney Andrew Benson was appointed to represent Wallace.
Patten filed a motion to hold both women without bail for a dangerousness hearing, which Judge Patricia Dowling allowed. The hearing is scheduled for June 26.
According to police, the crimes took place at the Westgate Shopping Plaza on Lowell Avenue and Central Plaza at 2 Water St. on June 11 and 12. They allege that Wallace drove the car and Legault approached the victims.
Patten said Legault would conceal a steak knife in her sleeve and that she would walk up to people who were doing various things such as shopping or out for an appointment and demand money. In one instance, police allege she tried to snatch a purse. In another, police allege she tried to pick and elderly man’s pocket while he fought her off with his cane.
Police said the arrests were the culmination of an intensive investigation launched a week ago after the six victims reported the crimes.
Haverhill police Lt. Robert Pistone called the crimes atrocious. He told The Eagle-Tribune that detectives were so incensed by the nature of the crimes — “elderly victims being preyed upon” — that they worked long and hard hours to solve them.
Pistone credited the victims’ descriptions of an older model Subaru station wagon with New Hampshire plates and the knife-wielding woman with leading to Wednesday’s arrests. Detective Glenn Fogarty located the suspected car travelling on Laurel Avenue in Bradford with two female occupants.