Drugs and Money

Houston Hit By Spate Of Armed Robberies

Kingwood is a carefully-planned community of 15,000 wooded acres in Houston. Many in Houston think of Kingwood as an oasis from the crime and turmoil of city life.

Last yearr that tranquility was shaken. Between May 30 and July 10, 1999, there were five armed robberies in the area. In each case, the robbers entered stories, and waved guns in the faces of terrorized clerks.

But to some even more shocking than hearing of the robberies was finding out who the alleged robbers were: four teen-age girls, all from Kingwood. They called themselves the "Queens of Armed Robbery." 48 Hours Correspondent Bernard Goldberg reports on this case.

The four girls were arrested after supposedly bragging about their adventures at parties. Someone turned them in.

Three girls confessed to police: Lisa Warzeka, a popular athlete at Kingwood High School, who had been hoping for a college scholarship; Katie Dunn, an award-winning member of the school's elite drill team; and Michelle Morneau, who had graduated from Kingwood - considered one of the best schools in the state - just days before the first robbery.

The fourth girl charged in the case was the youngest, Krystal Maddox. Police say she was the ringleader. Of the four, Maddox came from the wealthiest family; her father is a corporate executive. She decided to fight the charges in court.

What drove these girls to become robbers? Prosecutor Terrance Windham has a theory. "I think it's about greed," he says. "I think they got a thrill out of it."

Others are not so sure about what led to the crimes. To family and friends, Lisa was a good kid on the right path. "My sister was a leader; somebody I've always looked up to," says Jessica about her older sister.

"She was just a really good, clean athlete-type student person," Jessica adds. "She was perfect. Maybe she just wanted a break."

Lisa's mother Nikki Warzeka is a stay-at-home mother who says she spends lots of time with her daughters. Father Rand Warzeka is an occupational therapist.

A varsity volleyball and lacrosse player at Kingwood, Lisa would have been a senior this last academic year.

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But in the spring of 1999, Lisa began to change. Hr father says she began to rebel, miss her curfew, smoke and swear. She constantly argued with her parents. One day Lisa even attacked her sister. Her mother was so upset that she went to the police station and had Jessica file charges against Lisa.

"[She was] like a nasty, foul-mouthed hooker," recalls Rand Warzeka. "She dressed like one, acted like one. And that's what we had to live with. That's what made our lives hell for the month or so that this was going on."

Ultimately, the Warzekas decided to try to get Lisa's attention and kicked her out of the house. Lisa moved in with Krystal.

For six months after the girls were arrested on the robbery charges, neither Lisa's parents nor Katie's mother Virginia bailed their daughters out of the Harris County jail. They wanted the girls to realize the consequences of their actions. "We wanted her to learn a lesson," Rand Warzeka says of Lisa.

Robbing a convenience store was originally Lisa's idea. It started out as a joke, she says, and then escalated. Police say the stickups were well-planned: one robber guarded the door; another drove the getaway car, while someone else took the gun inside and pointed it at the clerk.

Police say that Kingwood has a big drug problem. Many Kingwood teen-agers consider their community boring. There are no movie theaters and bowling alleys.

When kids want excitement, they often find it at parties, where it's easy, they say, to get alcohol and drugs.

One Kingwood teen, Bethany Wilcox, claims Lisa was drawn into that world in the spring of 1999.

Lisa maintains, however, that in her case, drugs were not a major factor. But Katie, Lisa's best friend, was heavily into drugs, including cocaine, according to Katie's mother.

Do the girls end up spending time in prison? Find out in Teen-agers On Trial.