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Ex-con sought in 9 robberies

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2000

Police in Pinellas Park and Tampa are looking for an ex-convict wanted in a rash of McDonald's restaurant robberies.

Joe Lee Wells, 27, is suspected of robbing nine McDonald's restaurants in the Tampa Bay area in the past four weeks, said Pinellas Park police Sgt. Sanfield Forseth. Each restaurant has been robbed in the evening by a gunman in a full-rimmed fishing cap demanding money from the safe.

A warrant has been issued for Wells' arrest, police said, although it was unclear Wednesday how many robberies he has been charged with.

He is accused of the most recent robbery Saturday evening at a McDonald's at 10191 66th St. N in Pinellas Park. Police say they arrested Wells' 16-year-old getaway driver shortly after the robbery. Police also say Wells went into a nearby home just after the robbery and ordered the homeowner at gunpoint to drive him away from the area.

Wells, who sometimes goes by the name James Wells or "Country Boy," was released from prison July 29. Since 1995, he has served two separate prison terms for various charges including armed burglary, resisting arrest, felon in possession of a firearm, trafficking in stolen property, possessing marijuana and grand theft auto, records show.

Wells is nearly 6 feet tall, weighs 217 pounds, and has brown hair and brown eyes. He has numerous tattoos of skulls, women and white power symbols, including a tattoo of an iron cross on the back of his neck.

Anyone with information on Wells' whereabouts is asked to call Pinellas Park detective Ken Blessing at (727) 541-0726 or Tampa police detective J.S. Noblitt at (813) 276-3548.

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