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DNA evidence left behind by suspected serial robber helps police crack case

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Six weeks after a business owner was beaten and robbed at gunpoint, he's completely healed.
Franco Cupini is also relieved because a suspect is behind bars.

Fifty-three-year-old Edward Thomas faces several charges for three separate robberies. One happened in July, another in August, and then finally it to Cupini's just before Christmas. It was DNA evidence left behind at the popular Westport eatery that led to the arrest.

"Thirteen years we've been here, never had any problems," explained Cupini.

That is until December 23 when Cupini was it his restaurant about 8 a.m. getting ready to open for the day. Prosecutors say Thomas walked through the door, allegedly grabbed Cupini by the throat and hit him in the face.

"He clocked me with the gun on the nose," Cupini said.

Thomas then grabbed Cupini's wallet which had a thick rubber bands around it. Thomas used his teeth to take the rubber bands off and spit it on the ground, leaving behind DNA evidence that would eventually lead to him getting charged.

Cupini was Thomas' third alleged victim in about six months. The first was on July 10 when Thomas allegedly robbed the Huddle House on Broadway. He emptied the register at gunpoint and forced to employees in the freezer. A tipster identified Thomas and police showed pictures from surveillance video to his mother who confirmed his ID.

In late August, prosecutors say he struck again this time in the Crossroads District. He walked into a business on 19th St. and pointed a gun at a man inside. He took cell phone, cash and car keys. Police tracked the cell phone to a bus that Thomas was on. When the bus pulled over, police say they found the phone wedged under a nearby seat.

Thomas faces three counts of armed robbery and three counts of armed criminal action. He's being held on a $250,000 bond.

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