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Hotel robbers get 1 year
Lost wallet proves costly for trio
Ghrist, Robert Nathan.jpg
Three men have been sentenced for a hotel robbery in June that unraveled, in part, because one of the perpetrators left his wallet and cellphone at the scene.

Robert Nathan Ghrist, 29, along with brothers Matthew Justin Collins, 25, and Lucas Ray Collins, 22, all received the same sentence Wednesday from Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley.

The three were given six-year sentences with 365 days to be served in jail, and the remaining five years to be served on probation, for aggravated robbery and aggravated assault.

The robbery took place Saturday, June 9, at America’s Best Value Inn on Sunnyside Heights. According to court documents, the three began to stage the robbery Saturday afternoon when Ghrist made contact with a friend who was staying at the hotel. Ghrist stopped by his friend’s room in the afternoon to case the place before returning around 8 p.m. that same night.

On his return trip, the warrant says, “He was acting strangely according to the occupants and very shortly after arrival asked where a Coke machine was and opened the door to get one. When Ghrist opened the door, two other men, Matthew Justin Collins and Lucas Ray Collins rushed into the room while Ghrist re-entered.”

The three demanded money from the one male and two female occupants of the room.

“Matthew Collins pulled what the victims identified as a gun from his waistband and went to the nightstand and opened the drawer and took somewhere between $300 and $350. All three men then left the room,” the arrest warrant says.

When police investigators arrived, they were aided by video surveillance evidence that shows the men originally trying to enter the hotel from a wooded area in back. When that was unsuccessful, they entered through the front.

Once outside the room of the victims, video footage shows Ghrist appearing to give hand signals to the Collins brothers before entering the room. Ghrist is then shown reopening the door as Matthew Collins is seen pulling a gun from his waistband.

Once outside the hotel, the men ran west out of camera view. Police officers followed their trail to the rear parking lot where they found Ghrist’s wallet and cellphone on the ground near a parking space.

The suspects were taken into custody at their respective homes the next morning and booked at Warren County Jail. Clothing that matched the description of clothing seen on surveillance video was found. Also found was a BB gun.

As part of their sentences, the three were ordered to make restitution to the male victim for money stolen from the hotel room.