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Man arrested after allegedly robbing missionaries at knifepoint

Crime Watch

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IDAHO FALLS — Police arrested the man they say robbed missionaries at knifepoint Friday night.

Investigators say that around 8:45 p.m., two missionaries with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were robbed by 33-year-old Spencer Blanchette near Family Dollar near Woodruff Avenue and First Street, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Idaho Falls Police officers spoke with the missionaries who said as they walked on the sidewalk, a man later identified as Blanchette, got out of the passenger side door of a Dodge Durango SUV. The missionaries explained that Blanchette approached them with a knife in hand and demanded they hand over their backpacks, which he believed had drugs inside.

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The missionaries say that Blanchette then got into the Durango with another man behind the wheel and drove away. Police were already aware of the Durango since it was connected to a shoplifting incident at the Grand Teton Mall just before 8 p.m. that same night.

The next day, police found the Durango parked at a house on 2nd Street and spoke with a man who said he was with Blanchette the night before. He said the pair were driving by Winco when Blanchette said he “knew that guy” before getting out and speaking with the missionaries. The man said Blanchette then came back and got into the Durango.

Investigators brought Blanchette into the police station. He told them he must have blacked out and did not remember much about Friday night. According to court documents, Blanchette said he did go into Dillards with the intent to shoplift but was stopped by an employee. Blanchette then handed over almost $500 in merchandise and ran out of the store.

“He insisted he could not remember anything that night besides going to the bar,” a detective wrote in the probable cause. “He said he didn’t rob missionaries, that he would not do that and he had heard about it on the news and that was how he knew they were missionaries.”

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Police had the missionaries look at Blanchette through a two-way mirror. According to court documents, the missionaries said Blanchette looked like the man who robbed them but could not be 100% certain.

It’s not clear if police ever found the backpack stolen from the missionaries.

During the interview with police, Blanchette also said he had taken packages from houses earlier on Friday. Court documents do not detail where, but the Idaho Falls Police Department asked for help on Saturday to find “porch pirates” that struck the Fairway Estates area on Friday.

Idaho Falls Police Department spokeswoman Jessica Clements said on Monday that the Fairway Estates package thefts are still under investigation.

Police arrested Blanchette and prosecutors charged him with felony robbery of the missionaries and burglary for the shoplifting incident. The man with Blanchette was not charged in the incident.

Between both charges, a judge set Blanchette’s bail at $55,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11 at the Bonneville County Courthouse.

While Blanchette is charged with crimes, it does not necessarily mean he committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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