NAPLES — Three Collier County residents arrested Tuesday in connection with a September home invasion robbery, were holed up in a small mountain home in the Georgia county where the movie “Deliverance” was filmed.
Law enforcement learned of their whereabouts from a Crime Stoppers tip.
“We believe they were trying to elude law enforcement,” said Sgt. Brian Sawyer of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Division. “This was again in a very mountainous region. It’s off a small road, windy road.
“It’s not any place that would stand out.”
Thomas Edward Jeffries, 26; his brother, Tristan S. Jeffries, 24; and his wife, Jessica Nicole Jeffries, 23; were each charged with home invasion robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault on a person over 65 with firearm, kidnapping and grand theft.
They are accused of bursting into the North Naples home of 83-year-old Virginia Visnich in early September and demanding money at gunpoint. Once Visnich gave money to the two men — dressed in black, their faces covered — they bound her wrists with zip ties and shut her inside a bathroom.
“I prayed a lot and I wasn’t scared,” Visnich said of the attack.
In all, the family members are accused of stealing at least $40,000 worth of jewelry, currency and coins from Visnich, Sawyer said.
Investigators linked the family to the robbery by following up on a suspicious vehicle that had been reported in the neighborhood prior to the invasion, Sawyer said. That vehicle led them to an address in Naples where Thomas Jeffries had a business affiliation.
“Based on the information we obtained, we determined that Thomas and Tristan were the two perpetrators of the robbery,” Sawyer said. “Jessica assisted them before and after the robbery.”
After receiving a Crime Stoppers tip, Collier investigators, working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, located the Jeffries family staying in a guest house on a mountain. Naples police assisted with the processing of the crime scene in Naples.
“Thomas Jeffries was observed leaving his house in a vehicle. He was stopped in a traffic stop and placed under arrest at that time,” Sawyer said. “The other two were apprehended in the residence without any issue.
“All three subjects provided admittances about being involved in the crime,” he said.
They are awaiting extradition back to Florida.
Visnich said she would like her stolen property back.
“Well, the money for sure,” she said. “I’m very low on the money.”