EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 24, 2013

Merrimack Valley Bandit may be behind bars

Suspect sought in 15 robberies

After a string of armed robberies throughout the region that had reached a fever pitch, police believe they have captured the Merrimack Valley Bandit.

Rafael Beamud Jr., 32, of Lowell will be charged federally today with robbing TD Bank on Broadway in Methuen Feb. 21, according to FBI spokeswoman Katherine Gulotta.

But police have reason to believe Beamud may be charged with more than a dozen holdups that started in February and had store clerks and bank workers throughout the region on edge for months.

Last week, Salem police Detective Michael Bernard thought the suspect looked familiar. He sent police booking photos of Beamud to the FBI Bank Robbery Task Force. Yesterday afternoon, Beamud was detained by Salem police.

Last night, Salem Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten and Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon tipped their hats to all involved in Beamud’s arrest.

“It was a job well done by Salem detectives for paying attention and the joint task force for putting the entire case together and getting this guy off the street,” Patten said.

Working with the joint task force yesterday, Patten said, police were able to gather enough evidence to arrest Beamud. He said fingerprints from one of the robbery scenes matched the suspect information Bernard had provided the task force.

“At the point we knew Beamud was the primary suspect and knowing he frequents the Salem area, we were on the lookout for him,” Patten said last night. “Detective Steve Woidyla saw Beamud (yesterday) afternoon around 3:30 or 4, operating a vehicle.”

Woidlya pulled Beamud over and detained him while Salem police contacted the task force, Patten said.

They held Beamud in his vehicle until task force members arrived from Massachusetts and took him into custody, he said.

“At the time of his arrest, he had a couple thousand dollars in cash on him,” Patten said, noting that was “suspicious.”

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