WHEELING - Bonnie Grewe, who was arrested days after she criticized the Wheeling Police Department at a community meeting last week, was exonerated Thursday after police identified another suspect in the crime.
Officers believed Grewe was the woman seen on video surveillance stealing a wallet last Thursday from a store on Chapline Street. She turned herself in to police Monday after learning there was a warrant for her arrest.
Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said people arrived at department headquarters Wednesday evening with information about the woman now suspected in the theft. Officers continued their investigation, the chief said, and determined Grewe had not committed the crime.
Prosecutor Scott Smith on Thursday filed a motion in magistrate court to dismiss a charge of petit larceny against Grewe.
Both the investigating officer, who Schwertfeger said is new to the department, and a police detective identified Grewe as the suspect in the video. Schwertfeger said the suspect and Grewe look very similar.
"I'm certainly not happy about this," Schwertfeger said. "I'm the chief, and I'll take responsibility for the mistake."
Police on Thursday obtained an arrest warrant for the new suspect.
Hours after the alleged theft, Grewe was among about 50 people inside the Doc Horton Center in East Wheeling at a meeting led by Delores Wiggins, president of the Ohio Valley Black Caucus. While there, Grewe railed against the police department and complained about "false allegations" against her son, Cory Henry, who is accused of abducting a woman and sexually assaulting her at Grewe's home.
"I'm sure there are some folks who will believe (Grewe's arrest) is some sort of retaliation," Schwertfeger said. "I am not one of those people. I think this is a case of mistaken identity, but nonetheless, we erred."
According to a police report, Grewe "profusely proclaimed her innocence" to police. She told officers she will contact her attorney to pursue wrongful arrest charges against the department.
"Miss Grewe has every right to take whatever measure she deems necessary," Schwertfeger said of the possibility of a civil suit against the department.