A man who robbed and briefly abducted the real estate agent who was showing him a home has been sentenced to 38 years in prison in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
James Anthony Weil Jr., 47, pleaded guilty in January of this year to robbing a real estate agent who was showing him a home in 2016. As first reported by local press, Circuit Court Judge Steven C. Frucci sentenced Weil to 38 years in prison for robbery, abduction, and two counts of use of a firearm on Monday.
According to police evidence, Weil had reached out to the female agent, whose name is being kept private by the courts, about viewing a property for sale in the 500 block of Virginia Beach’s Odessa Drive.
After asking to see the detached garage, Weil allegedly closed the door and pulled out a gun before demanding that she hand over her bank and credit cards, PIN numbers and keys to her.
After the agent told Weil that the purse with her credit cards was locked inside her car, he locked her inside the garage and, telling her not to scream, went outside.
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The agent unlocked the door, hid behind the garage and screamed for help at a nearby garbage truck whose driver was able to contact the police. At this point, her cell phone, car keys and phone had all gone missing.
As part of the ensuing investigation, the agent identified Weil from a photograph while the police tracked him down from the phone number he used to set up the showing. Credit card charges also linked Weil to the surveillance camera footage of a nearby Rite Aid store and he was arrested the day after the occurrence. A key from the home-for-sale was found in his pocket.
Prior to his arrest, Weil had a range of other convictions ranging from credit card fraud and forging bad checks to eluding police and possession of a concealed weapon.
Over the last year, a number of agents have faced life-threatening situations on the job — one agent was shot with a stun gun while another was killed while trying to evict tenants from a building he managed.
Experts advise always putting safety first by hosting open houses with colleagues, scanning attendees for verbal and non-verbal body cues, having a safety alarm close installed on one’s phone and leaving at the first sign of dangerous behavior among visitors.
“We’re just one tragedy away from agents getting worried about their safety again,” Philip Faranda, president of the Beverly Carter Foundation, a safety advocacy group so named for a slain Arkansas Realtor who was murdered while showing a remote home, told Inman last fall.