A bandaged, knife-wielding man ran to the rescue of his companion who had been caught shoplifting medical supplies from the Pleasantville Kmart last week.
But as he rushed up behind the security guard, aiming his blade, another store worker flung the would-be victim out of harm’s way. The knife-wielder and companion escaped, but not for long.
Four days later, that same man and a female were arrested outside a motel along the Black Horse Pike, charges indicate. But this wasn’t about stealing bandages from a store. Instead, charges claim, Craig Arno and Jessica Kisby stole a man from a casino parking garage.
Arno, 44, and Kisby, 24, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to carjacking and kidnapping Martin Caballero, 47, as he tried to park his car at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort on May 21. A body found Sunday on a Hamilton Township farm is believed to be his, Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said, but Housel is awaiting confirmation before filing more charges, which could include murder. Caballero is a grocery-store manager from North Bergen Township, Hudson County.
Kisby’s photo on The Press of Atlantic City’s website caused a Kmart worker to link the dark-haired woman to the female in the store’s surveillance videotape, assistant manager Bill McConnell said.
Police were alerted. Wednesday morning, Arno was charged with robbery, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon in the botched May 24 theft. But Kisby has not been charged in that incident. Housel did not say whether she would be.
According to the police report obtained by The Press, the woman dressed in a white T-shirt and dark jeans started placing several items in her pockets. But as she tried to leave, security guard Javier Rodriguez stoped her. Loss prevention specialist Cliff Evans was called and told the woman to empty her pockets.
That’s when a man with a weapon came rushing across the parking lot and into the store, McConnell said Wednesday.
“Cliff grabbed Javier and literally flung him out of the way before the guy could stab him in the back,” McConnell said.
“He’s a lucky man,” he said of Rodriguez. “He owes Mr. Cliff at least dinner.”
The man Rodriguez dodged had bandages on his right arm, the report states. When Arno was led into court Wednesday, his right hand was bandaged to the wrist. He held that hand across the left side of his chest, where video of his arrest last Friday shows severe burns. His face is also pitted.
The burns were caused when Arno torched Caballero’s white Lincoln in a remote area of Gloucester Township, Housel has charged. Supplies the woman was stealing at Kmart included bandage tape and ointment. Total cost: $37.13. The car the two fled the Kmart in at about 9:15 p.m. was described as a gray Toyota. Arno allegedly used his grandmother’s silver Toyota in the abduction.
“Quite frankly, I think there’s a lot of questions left to be answered,” Kisby’s attorney, Steven Scheffler, said after Wednesday’s brief hearing.
“I’m impressed that (investigators) gathered a lot of circumstantial evidence,” he said. “I’d just like to see them put it all together and see what kind of picture it paints. It just seems to be some things are missing.”
As sheriff’s officers led Kisby into the courtroom, she put her back to the judge and scanned the room with an intent look. She then turned to face Superior Court Judge Michael Donio, who last Thursday signed the arrest warrant for a “Jane Doe.” That has now been amended to include her name, Housel said.
She did not speak except to confirm her identity.
Donio kept the bail at $400,000 full cash. The additional charges against Arno raised his bail to $500,000 cash.
In 2006, Arno claimed he was indigent and owed more than $1 million in debts and restitution for previous crimes. He has a long history of fraud and thefts, and civil suits that indicate he often failed to pay his bills.
Both have a bail hearing set for next Thursday, but the circumstances could change if it is confirmed that Caballero’s body was the one found Sunday.
An autopsy on that body is complete, but Housel would not release the cause of death. That likely would come with the additional charges, since how the victim died would dictate the charges.
- 1981: Five years’ probation for killing a woman during a drag racing incident
- 1998: Sentenced to 70 months on several charges, including bank fraud and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
- 2003: Jailed on terroristic threats.
- 2007: Returned to Atlantic County after being jailed in Texas on violation of probation.
- 2008: Sentenced to three years for theft by deception and theft by taking.
- 2008: Sentenced to 364 days in county jail for aggravated assault.
- 2008: Arrested in county-wide drug sweep.
Contact Lynda Cohen:
Check here Wednesday morning for updates, including video, from court appearance.