Woman, man held in armed robbery of couple at West Side Park

URBANA — A Rantoul woman and a Chicago man are being held in the Champaign County Jail in lieu of $300,000 bond each for allegedly robbing a couple in West Side Park early Monday.

April Tharpe, 30, who listed an address in the 1100 block of East Champaign Avenue, and Joshua Mason, 21, who listed an address in Chicago, were each charged Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court with two counts of armed robbery.

The couple is accused of robbing two Champaign residents as they were lying in the park in the 300 block of West Church Street about 1:30 a.m. Monday.

A Champaign police report said the couple said they were watching the stars when the man and woman approached and asked for directions to the bus station. After small talk, the man used pepper spray on the 24-year-old female, then pulled a handgun and ordered both the man and woman to roll over and look at the ground.

The male robber then ordered the 29-year-old man to remove his glasses. When the man balked, the robber hit him in the head with a handgun.

The male robber told them if they moved, his girlfriend would shoot them. He then took the female's purse and the man's wallet before taking off.

The couple contacted police and gave them a description of the robbers.

Police found Mason and Tharpe nearby and stopped them because they matched the descriptions.

Police found a can of pepper spray in Mason's pocket as well as three cigarette lighters with unique markings that the female victim described as hers. They also found earbud headphones that the female victim said were hers.

Tharpe was found to have a white cellphone charger belonging to the female victim. Tharpe also had a black scarf and handcuffs.

If convicted, Tharpe and Mason face six to 30 years in prison. They were told to be back in court July 22.

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