Robbers leave Army vet, 79, duct-taped to chair

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Indianapolis Metropolitan police are looking for two men who robbed a 79-year-old Army veteran and left him duct-taped to a chair for hours Sunday night.

Billy Blankenship told Fox 59 he had just finished mowing his yard in the 1100 block of Brunswick Avenue when two black men in their 20s approached him, asking for yard work to do. He told them he didn’t have any work for them, but he could offer them a cold drink.

After all three men got inside Blankenship’s house, they struck up conversation. But then, one of them attacked Billy from behind.

“He got me in some kind of wrestling hold around the neck,” Billy said.‬

The men sat Billy down in a kitchen chair and wrapped him in duct tape from his knees up to his neck.‬

“I couldn’t even move,” he said.‬

With Billy taped to the chair, the two men rifled through the house. After some time, they left with about $2,000 in cash, some old jewelry, Billy’s Smith and Wesson handgun and his Buick, which was parked outside.‬

When the thieves left, Billy was still taped to the chair.‬ It took him about four hours to finally work one of his hands free to grab the scissors on the kitchen table.‬

“And I got them maneuvered around to where I could cut the tape off,” he said. “And I cut a piece at a time.”‬

Once free, Billy called his neighbor across the street, who called 911.‬

“It just makes me sad,” said Billy’s niece Judy Rossman. “He’s a nice older man who’s never done anything wrong to anybody.”‬

Rossman said police were hoping to pull fingerprints of the two suspects from the long roll of duct tape they left behind. They were also examining a digital scale that one of the men apparently dropped during their search for valuables. Digital scales are often found during drug investigations.‬

“Hopefully with all that duct tape, there’s going to be some fingerprints,” Rossman said.‬

Blankenship described the suspects as black males between the ages of 20 and 30. One looked to be about 6’0” tall; the other was 5’9” or 5’10”. They were both wearing white t-shirts. One was wearing dress pants. The other was wearing pajama pants.‬

Billy says he’ll give anyone a first chance.‬ But to the two men who robbed him and left him stranded, he says, “If you ever come back again, I’ll kill you.”‬