Man to face purse snatching charges in court

Last updated: March 27, 2017 - 4:50pm

Lyle A. Fought, 22, arrives for his hearing Monday morning at District Judge Richard Knecht’s court in Berwick. (Press Enterprise/Keith Haupt)

BERWICK — Jackie Vital says she was just trying to help a couple with a sick child when she saw them in the medicine aisle of the grocery store earlier this month.

Instead, they scammed her, when the woman distracted her and the man snatched her purse, according to police.

Now Lyle Fought, 22, of 806 N. Vine St., Berwick, will face trial in county court on charges of theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy to commit theft, after he waived a hearing on those charges in District Judge Richard Knecht’s office Monday morning. Police are still looking for his girlfriend and alleged accomplice, Kirsten Tretter.

Vital says her daughter asked her to stop at Boyer’s on her way into town because her daughter — Vital’s granddaughter — had a fever and needed Motrin, she said. 

“So I’m looking at the medicine, and I’m on the phone with my daughter, talking to her,” Vital said. “My cart is right by me, my arm’s on it, and my purse is where a baby would sit. I didn’t leave it. I was right there.”

She noticed the younger couple standing near her, but didn’t pay them much attention until she heard the woman talking about her.

“She said, ‘Well I’ll ask her when she gets off the phone.’” Vital recalled the woman saying.

So she hung up the phone and asked if she could help. Tretter told her they had a 2-year-old at home who was coughing a lot. They’d already given her Tylenol, but it wasn’t working, she told her. 

The girl, who Vital described as “not thin” and wearing a nose ring, was holding up a package of medicine that contained Tylenol. Worried the couple would give their baby an overdose, she began explaining the dosage to her. 

“Something told me to turn around,” Vital said. “I felt uncomfortable.”

She spotted Fought walking away, noticed her purse was gone, and began yelling. 

As Fought took off out of the store, good samaritan Antonio Baratta gave chase, eventually forcing Fought to dump the purse. He later helped police spot Fought a few blocks away, arrest papers say.

Fought was arrested and jailed in Columbia County prison in lieu of $10,000 bail, where he remains.

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