He wanted to help a homeless man but ended up tied up in a hotel room, deputy says

Ernest Eugene Leffew
Ernest Eugene Leffew

A homeless man robbed a Good Samaritan at knifepoint, kidnapped him and tied him up in woods, but apparently changed his mind, an investigator said.

Ernest Leffew then took the man to his hotel room and tied him up there and stole his vehicle, Sheriff’s Capt. Coley Judy said. The victim freed himself and called for help. Investigators identified Leffew through a woman who had been seen at the Legacy Inn on Canal Road, where Leffew was renting a hotel room.

Deputies arrested Leffew, 45, on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping on Monday. They found him at a homeless camp near Crossroads Shopping Center in Gulfport.

The Good Samaritan reported he was leaving a church on 28th Street on Sunday when a homeless man, later identified as Leffew, asked him for a ride to a laundromat. He later returned with a sandwich for Leffew, who then asked him for a ride to Beatline Road.

While in the vehicle, Leffew pulled out a knife and took the man’s cash and credit cards, Judy said. Leffew reportedly ordered the man to drive to several ATMs and to a Walmart, and he wiped out the man’s accounts.

Leffew forced the man into a wooded area on Beatline and tied him up, Judy said. Leffew then untied him and forced him to drive them to Leffew’s hotel room. Leffew allegedly tied the victim up again and left in the man’s vehicle.

The victim untied himself within a couple of hours, Judy said. The incident was first reported as a kidnapping.

Investigators found evidence at each of the crime scenes to corroborate the victim’s complaint, Judy said.

Leffew isn’t eligible to post bail. He is on probation for a felony shoplifting conviction from an arrest earlier this year and for an embezzlement conviction from an arrest in 2016, the jail docket shows. Leffew also was convicted of fraud after a 2015 arrest.

He was brought before Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner for an initial appearance Monday.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews