A Waukegan man wanted for murder was linked to an armed robbery that occurred at a Family Dollar store in Gurnee on Wednesday, police said.
The Gurnee Police Department responded around 9:17 a.m. Wednesday to the Family Dollar, 3521 Grand Avenue, for a report of an armed robbery. It was the second armed robbery to occur within a span of a year at that store.
Gurnee Police Department Public Information Officer Shawn Gaylor said the offender entered the store and pointed a handgun at the clerk and a customer. The suspect demanded money from the cash drawer and safe.
After confiscating an undisclosed amount of cash, the offender told the witnesses to lay on the ground while he fled out the back door of the store, Gaylor said.
Gurnee police officers arrived and began searching the area for suspects, but the offender drove away in a Dodge SUV.
The witnesses’ description of the offender along with distinctive demands that were given during the armed robbery matched similar armed robberies that occurred in recent months, Gaylor said.
Investigators identified the suspect as Derenell D. Hill, 35, of the 1700 block of Runyard Place in Waukegan. Hill had an active arrest warrant for murder.
Waukegan police officers assisted with the investigation and located the Dodge SUV, driven by Hill, and took him into custody.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for Hill’s residence and located a handgun and additional evidence connected to the armed robbery.
Hill was transported to the Gurnee Police Department for questioning and charges in the robbery are pending.
Hill was the second suspect to be charged with the killing of a married couple at their Beach Park home in December.
Timothy D. Triplett, Jr., 34, of the 2100 block of Georgetown Lane in Waukegan, was charged with six counts of first-degree murder, while Hill was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Hill and Triplett allegedly killed Mercedes Rodas, 49, and Carlos Rafael Rodas Perez, 52, both of Beach Park.
The couple was found after the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Beach Park Fire Department responded December 8 for a call of a person down in the 10000 block of West Wadsworth Road in Beach Park.
Sheriff’s deputies located Rodas and Perez deceased in the garage of the residence with gunshot wounds, Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Lt. Christopher Covelli said.
During the Wednesday search warrant for the armed robbery, detectives recovered a firearm belonging to Rodas Perez, which had been stolen from the victim during the double homicide.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Thursday that some of his top prosecutors would continue their work on the case.
“This calculated and brutal murder has been a top priority for the sheriff and I. And it will continue to be a priority from now until we achieve justice for the victims and their family,” Rinehart said.
Covelli said that the two men did not know the victims and detectives believe the motive was a robbery.
Triplett and Hill both remain held in the Lake County Jail on a $5 million bond each.