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Man suspected in 20 robberies says drug addiction fueled his spree, police say

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Mathew Kuepper says the last few weeks have been a "blur" due to his drug addiction, according to a police report.

Kuepper and his ex-wife, Kellie Kuepper, were arrested Thursday after eluding police for weeks. They are accused of committing numerous armed robberies across Salt Lake County since June 6.

Mathew Kuepper, 32, of Salt Lake City, was arrested for investigation of eight counts of aggravated robbery, and Kellie Kuepper, 31, of Murray, was arrested for investigation of two.

But detectives, who were still compiling evidence and comparing notes Friday, believe the total number of robberies connected to the two is actually closer to 20, said Unified Police Lt. Lex Bell.

The Kueppers were arrested by Cottonwood Heights police Thursday after allegedly robbing a Papa John's pizza store and leading officers on a chase.

After they were arrested, Mathew Kuepper told detectives he has been committing the robberies to support his heroin and crack cocaine habit, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

"Mathew stated he would purchase the narcotics from the area of 210 Rio Grande after committing the robberies and then he was out of money so he would rob further businesses," the report states.

At first, Kuepper was robbing businesses about once a day, Bell said. But over the last week, police believe Kuepper was committing two or even three robberies a day to support his increasing drug habit.

"It sounds like they got out of control with their addiction and spending," Bell said.

"Mathew stated the last few weeks have been a 'blur' due his drug intoxication and coming down off the high," the report states.

Kuepper is believed to have robbed several Papa Murphy's pizza stores in Holladay, Murray and West Jordan, as well as a Papa John's, Jamba Juice, Arctic Circle, 7-Eleven and a nail salon.

Kellie Kuepper filed for divorce in 2015, according to court records. Police, however, say she was spotted waiting in a vehicle at several robberies, either as a driver or passenger.

When asked about his ex-wife's knowledge of the robberies, "Mathew offered no reasonable explanation of how she would not notice he had just committed a crime or why he would park down the street and return out of breath only to rapidly flee the area," the report states.

Police say Mathew Kuepper displayed a firearm during each robbery. Kuepper told detectives after his arrest that he used a "plastic toy that looked realistic," according to the report, and that he "had no intentions of harming anyone."

Kuepper would commonly tell his victims that he was not going to hurt them, and that he only wanted the business' money, not their own personal money, the report states.

But Bell said the charges are the same whether a gun is real or fake.

"It doesn't make a difference," he said.

Both Kueppers have prior criminal histories of drug-related charges, according to court records. In 2014, Mathew Kuepper was convicted in another series of aggravated robberies. In those incidents, he claimed he needed money to pay off a "drug debt" and used an airsoft gun during the robberies, charging documents state.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

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