Collar bomb robbery, playing tricks on the FBI for a decade
In January 2013, a bizarre case occurred in Pennsylvania, the United States: a pizzeria clerk was wearing a “collar bomb” while delivering food, and robbed a bank according to instructions. The police captured him, but the bomb exploded before the bomb disposal experts arrived, and the delivery man died on the spot. For 10 years, FBI agents have spared no effort to track down the murderer behind the scenes, but the result has made them consider themselves “the biggest failure since the establishment”: the mastermind is playing a mind game with them, and they have the last laugh.
The collar bomb case caused panic
At 2:28 pm on January 28, 2013, Brian Wells, a 46-year-old pizza delivery man, walked into the PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania, holding a short stick in his right hand and wearing a T-shirt. There is a strange bump on the collar. Wells walked to the counter and handed in a note with trembling hands: “Concentrate all employees in the basement and fill the bags with $250,000 as soon as possible. You only have 15 minutes.” Then he uncovered his collar, A box-like device around the neck is revealed. The note said it was a bomb.
The bank staff told Wells they couldn’t get into the basement right now, so they just put $8,702 in cash in the bag and handed it out. After getting the money, Wells grabbed a lollipop from the counter, peeled it, sucked it, walked out the door, jumped into a car, and drove off. As soon as Wells left, a customer wrote down his license plate number and reported it to the police. Mounties found Wells 15 minutes later in a parking lot near the bank. Several police officers surrounded him, knocked Wells to the ground, and handcuffed him from behind.
Wells told the police that when he came out to deliver food, a group of black people jumped out of nowhere and accosted him, then pointed a gun at him, put a bomb on his neck, and forced him to rob a bank. “It’s going to explode!” Wells’ eyes were full of horror, “I’m not lying.” The
police called bomb disposal experts and waited in ambush nearby.
The reporter from the TV station came and started filming. For a full 25 minutes, Wells sat on the sidewalk with his legs curled up. “Did you call my boss?” Wells asked the nearest police officer, and the thing around his neck began to make a rapid ticking sound as soon as he finished speaking.
Wells fidgeted and kept backing away, as if trying to avoid the bomb. Beep…beep…beep…boom! The bomb exploded, and Wells died on the sidewalk with a gash the size of an envelope ripping through his chest. It was 3:18 p.m., and bomb disposal experts arrived three minutes later.
News of Wells’ murder quickly spread throughout Erie, from St. Louis to Sydney, and the incident made headlines in every newspaper in the United States. People talked a lot, and they deliberately avoided black people on the road, for fear that their necks would be “hijacked” inexplicably.
On February 2, this high-profile case was taken over by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). On the same day, the Pittsburgh branch of the FBI held a televised press conference.
At the meeting, Director Kenneth McCabe explained the situation they were facing to the public: “According to statistics, so far, there have only been three collar bomb cases in the world. One case occurred in the spring of 2003. Venezuelan farmers extorted money. Fortunately, the police finally ruled out the bomb on the farmer’s neck. Another case occurred in May 2000. A collar with explosives was tied around the neck of a 53-year-old Colombian woman. Later, the danger was saved. Only Wells, all the clues disappeared with him and the bomb…”
Many citizens were dissatisfied with Kenneth’s negative attitude, and they gathered at the gate of the police station to protest. The relationship between blacks and whites also became tense suddenly and silently. Under the pressure of public opinion, the FBI established an investigation team headed by Agent Jim Fisher and began to sort out the evidence.
Jim is a bomb expert, and almost all the bomb cases detected by the FBI have his credit. Jim found some notes in Wells’ car, which directed Wells to a bank robbery, and then laid out a series of instructions to find codes hidden all over Erie. If Wells complied, the note said, he would be able to find the key and disengage the bomb from his neck, and failure or disobedience would result in death.
The mastermind has built a nightmarish maze for Wells, and the prize is his life!
Jim and his men try to complete this treasure hunt. The first note was pretty straightforward: “Take the money out of the bank and go to a McDonald’s restaurant.” It continued, “Get out of the car and go to the flower garden and find a small sign that says ‘drive-thru / open 24 hours.’ There’s a rock next to the sign, and there’s a note under it.” Wells left the bank, went straight there with a bag of money, and found a two-page instruction in the flowerbed, asking him to follow along. Driving down Peach Street, I headed a few miles to a place where there was an orange-tape-wrapped container with the instructions to follow. Before he got there, Wells was caught.
Jim found the container, and the note inside told him to drive two miles south, and he would see a small road sign, and the next order was waiting in the nearby woods…
it took 4 days, the FBI searched the woods like a carpet , finally found the bottle, but it was empty! Jim was surprised that he had been fooled, and the mastermind won 4 days with an empty bottle, which was enough to destroy all the criminal evidence!
During the autopsy on Wells, the forensic doctor found that Wells was wearing two T-shirts when he died. The outer one had the Guess brand logo on it, but Wells was not wearing this dress when he went to work that morning, and his relatives and friends said The clothes are not his. Jim realized that he had met a “master”, and the shining “Guess” seemed to be mocking him: Guess who I am?
The FBI launched a complex investigation, and agents scoured for clues.
The hidden mystery of the murder case
On February 15, 2013, Jim sent people to investigate “Mia’s Mama’s Pizza Restaurant”. Wells worked there until he was hijacked.
At 1.30pm on the day of the crime, someone called and ordered two pepperoni pizzas to be delivered to the outskirts of the city. Wells was a model employee, arriving late only once in a decade. Even though he was about to turn over at that time, he agreed to send the order. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, he walked out of the store with two pizzas in his hand.
The orderer’s address is not far from Peach Street, in a wooded area, a TV tower, accessible only by a dirt road. When detectives searched, they found Wells’ shoe prints and tire marks, but no clues as to what happened next.
While the forensics work was busy, Jim noticed a large man in professional work clothes was pacing in front of a house on the side of the road, his backyard was adjacent to the broadcast tower. According to the information, the big man named Bill Rothstein was 59 years old, a carpenter and unmarried. When Jim went to check, Rothstein replied blankly that he didn’t know anything.
With such a big case happening in front of the house, you can still act calmly as if the neighbor just lost a dog! “Check out this inquisitive person.” Jim ordered his men to keep an eye on Rothstein.
On February 20, 911 received a strange call. The first sentence of the man on the phone was: I have nothing to do with the Wells case. Then he said: “There is a body in the garage at 8645 Peach Street.” Dozens of minutes later, the police found that 8645 Peach Street was Rothstein’s address.
When Jim arrived at the scene, Rothstein was already on the verge of death due to a severed pulse. He said his last words angrily: “I called the police. The body in the kitchen freezer is Jill Roden. I killed him…”
This Who is Jill Roden and why did Rothstein kill him? Why did Rothstein say that it had nothing to do with the Wells case? Did he know that the FBI was investigating him? Jim was a little apprehensive about finding so many questions after he found a clue. He couldn’t figure out what kind of game the opponent hidden in the dark had set up.
After investigation, without any new evidence, the police determined that Rothstein killed Jill Roden, and finally committed suicide in fear of crime. Jim had to turn his head to study the collar bomb that had been blown up to pieces.
The bomb consisted of two parts: a metal collar with four keyholes and a three-digit combination; and an iron box containing two pipe bombs containing gunpowder. The bomb also comes with two kitchen timers and an electronic countdown. Some wires run through the unit, but are not actually connected, just to distract from the view. The whole design is very delicate.
Director Kenneth appeared on TV again, calling on the public to provide clues about suspicious persons who had purchased ammonium nitrate, sodium nitrate, and timers to make bombs. In a few days, 911 received countless calls. Even the owner of the hardware store asked the FBI to go to see his surveillance video, because a vicious man had bought some wires.
The lengthy investigation lasted for more than a year. In January 2015, Jim saw a familiar name on an order at a chemical store—Jill Roden. The body in the freezer bought a large amount of ammonium nitrate 11 days before the Wells case. Jim pulled out the Jill Roden case file, and he wanted to re-investigate the local murder.
After some setbacks, Jim finally dug out the intersection of Rothstein and Jill Rawden from Jill Rawden’s sister – a woman named Marjorie Dale Armstrong. She was born in 1961. In the 1970s, she had a relationship with Rothstein. In 2008, she had an affair with Jill Roden behind her husband’s back.
Incredibly, 43 days before the Wells case, Marjorie’s husband Richard Armstrong died of a cerebral hemorrhage. His death was deemed an accident, but the doubts from relatives and friends lingered: He suffered head injuries when he was sent to the hospital. In two months, three men who had intimate relationships died one after another, and Marjorie seemed extremely mysterious.
Speaking of Marjorie, everyone in Erie seems to know that she first came to public attention in 1996, when she was 35 years old and was accused of murdering her boyfriend Robert Thomas. In court, Marjorie said she shot him six times in self-defense, and the judge finally acquitted her.
In the past year, Marjorie’s abnormal behavior has become even worse. Neighbor Amy is the only person who has had close contact with Marjorie. The Marjorie in her mouth is unreasonable: “She will buy 400 pounds of butter and 700 pounds of cheese at a time, and keep them at home. Throwing. She has a bad temper and is difficult to get along with. Apart from reading newspapers and TV news every day, she just giggles and beats people… The psychiatrist has confirmed that she is insane 7 times.”
Regarding the arrival of the police, Marjorie was very calm, with a calm expression on her face. There was also a hint of uncontrollable joy. She admitted that she killed Jill Roden: “On February 17, 2013, Jill asked me for money. If I didn’t give it, he beat me. I had no choice but to shoot Killed him. After Jill died, I asked Rothstein to help destroy the body. Rothstein melted down the shotgun, but he refused to smash the body. I threatened to kill him, but he chose to call the police…”
May 2016 In March, Marjorie pleaded guilty in court, but was only sentenced to seven years in state prison because of insanity. Looking at Marjorie’s crazy figure, Jim felt that he was very close to the real murderer… He wanted to show this woman her true colors!
Who is the real murderer?
Jim went to the prison to meet with Marjorie again and again, and what he got was either endless silence or crazy roars.
In a blink of an eye, in April 2017, the anxious Jim received a “business”. Barnes, a drug tycoon in Erie, was arrested. He clamored to know some inside information about the Wells case, and he hoped to use this as a bargaining chip in exchange for his freedom.
Barnes said he enjoys fishing and often meets Marjorie, who shares the same hobby, along the moat in Erie. Beginning in 2012, Marjorie often complained to him about the lack of money, and once said that he could pay him to kill her father in order to inherit the inheritance… At the beginning of 2013, Marjorie suddenly became very happy, and said several times There will be a lot of money coming in.
Barnes’ testimony confirmed some of Jim’s previous thoughts. The case must be related to Marjorie!
On February 10, 2018, Jim met with Marjorie again and said he had enough evidence to charge her. Marjorie exploded, pounding her fists on the table, yelling at the FBI and lawyers for framing her.
In July 2018, on the fifth anniversary of the Wells case, the Erie prosecutor’s office held a press conference announcing significant progress in the case. In front of the cameras, prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan declared the investigation closed and Marjorie and Barnes carried out the sensational crime. The Wells family members in the auditorium were stunned when they heard the news. His sister Barbara kept shouting, “Lie! It doesn’t make any sense!”
It wasn’t just Wells’ relatives and friends who were suspicious. For those who have been following the case, this conclusion is also difficult to convince. It raised as many questions as it answered: Who held Wells hostage? Can the mentally ill Marjorie really plan such a complicated crime?
In September 2018, Barnes pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He agreed to testify against Marjorie in hopes of getting a reduced sentence. Marjorie’s trial seemed to solve the collar bomb mystery, but people waited a long time. First, a judge ruled that she was mentally unstable and unfit to stand trial, and the trial had to be postponed several times; when it was finally appropriate, something else happened.
In August 2022, Marjorie was diagnosed with glandular cancer. After learning the news, she finally admitted that she was involved in the collar bomb case, and if the FBI agents can help transfer her to Cambridge Prince Prison, which has a slightly looser supervision, she will tell the truth.
One day in October 2022, Jim was amazed by what Marjorie calmly told of the “case” word by word.
In early 2013, the relationship between Marjorie and her husband was getting worse because of financial problems. Waking up one morning, her husband pointed to the collar hijacking case in Venezuela in the newspaper, and jokingly said, “Maybe, we can find someone like this to rob a bank.” On the same day, Marjorie went to find Rothstein. Young love is always unforgettable. Marjorie has kept in touch with Rothstein for many years, and Rothstein is even more infatuated, and has been unmarried waiting for his sweetheart. After Rothstein learned of the plan, he urged Marjorie to fly away with him when he got the money, and relive the old dream.
Back home in the evening, Marjorie and her husband had an altercation as they went over the details of the plan. Rothstein’s sweet words were especially in my ears, and Marjorie raised the iron pot in her hand and smashed it to her husband’s brain in anger and conflict… Marjorie’s husband suffered from high blood pressure, and the excitement and serious trauma were very serious. Almost made him stop breathing.
After dealing with her husband’s funeral, Marjorie followed Rothstein’s instructions and began to recruit some people to carry out the scheme. Wells was in a relationship with a prostitute at the time, and he often asked Barnes to buy drugs for the prostitute in exchange for enjoyment.
Two weeks before the robbery, Wells owed Barnes money and needed cash, and Barnes introduced him to Marjorie. Rothstein told Wells that the bomb was fake. Wells was smart enough to come up with the “search game” idea, figuring that if he got caught, he could use those threatening notes to prove he was coerced.
On the afternoon of January 28, 2013, when Wells delivered the pizza to the TV tower, he realized that he had been deceived: the bomb was real! He tried to run but was wrestled and while at gunpoint he was put on a collar bomb by Rothstein… Jill Roden was surprised when the news of Wells wearing the collar bomb was broadcast on TV Suddenly, he discovered that the collar bomb was his own masterpiece, and he just made an “experiment” according to Marjorie’s instructions. Jill Roden finds Marjorie for a tantrum, complaining that she’s involved herself in such a big case, and expressing her intention to turn herself in.
Marjorie discusses with Rothstein that if Jill Roden is not killed, there will soon be trouble. Rothstein ordered Marjorie to kill Jill Roden, but at this moment, Rothstein realized that the FBI had already targeted him. Thinking of the long prison life, Rothstein decided to sacrifice himself to keep the one he loves.
After Rothstein’s death, Marjorie was in great pain. She followed the plan Rothstein designed for her to make the bomb case a permanent mystery! She began to act crazy and foolish, and prepared for the worst-using the Jill Roden case to cover herself. Marjorie’s narrative seems to be flawless, Rothstein is the manipulator of the whole thing! On October 17, 2022, the FBI held another press conference to explain the case. After nearly 10 years, some questions about the Wells case have finally been answered, but all the victims are participants in the case. When only Marjorie is left in the world, what she said about the case is the “truth”.
Jim, who had solved the case, was even more frustrated. In a TV interview, he said: “This crazy woman won in the end. She gave the crime to the dead, and she was released on medical parole. All criminals died with freedom, and no one Will be responsible for this, the ultimate answer will never be found, they came up with a recreational puzzle, a puzzle that the FBI has been following in vain… This is the biggest failure the FBI has suffered since its establishment!”