Crime & Courts

Man who shoved and robbed disabled elderly woman gets 7 years behind bars

Billy Ray Wilhelm
Billy Ray Wilhelm Catawba County District Attorney’s Office

A Catawba County man who shoved and robbed an 83-year-old disabled woman will spend seven years in prison.

Billy Ray Wilhelm, 58, of Claremont was sentenced in Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to common law robbery and admitting his status as a habitual felon, prosecutors said.

On Dec. 7, 2015, Wilhelm approached the woman in the parking lot of a Hickory Walmart and asked for money to help his family, according to prosecutors. The woman gave him the money and her address to later return the money.

The next day, Wilhelm showed up at the woman’s Conover home, bringing her newspaper to the door. She let him inside, and he stole her purse, the Catawba County District Attorney’s Office said.

When she confronted him about it and tried to take her purse back, Wilhelm shoved her and left, prosecutors said. The victim got his license plate as he drove away.

“It was very satisfying to send Mr. Wilhelm to prison for victimizing a trusting, elderly lady,” District Attorney David Learner said in a statement. “He only decided to plead guilty when we walked into court this morning to begin picking a jury for his trial.

“I would also like to commend all the officers involved for their outstanding investigation and quick arrest in this case,” Learner said.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak