Crime

Woman Behind Collar-Bomb Bank Robbery Dies In Prison

| by Michael Doherty

The woman who was the mastermind behind a strange bank robbery plot in 2003 has died in prison.

Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, 68, was convicted in a 2003 plot to rob a bank using a bomb in Erie, Pennsylvania. Before her death, Diehl-Armstrong was serving a life sentence plus 30 years after she was convicted in 2010 for bank robbery, conspiracy and using a destructive device in a violent crime, the Daily Mail reports.

Diehl-Armstrong died of natural causes on April 4 at a federal medical center in Texas.

The plot had involved Brian Wells, 46, who wore a collar bomb around his neck and disguised himself as a pizza delivery man. Wells left the bank with $8,702 but authorities managed to stop him. While the police waited for a bomb squad to arrive to handle the explosive device, it detonated, killing Wells.

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Prosecutors said they believed there were five co-conspirators in the crime. Diehl-Armstrong, Wells and three other men were accused of being involved.

While Wells was later called a co-conspirator, the man's family has said that he was a hostage, according to New York Daily News. Before the bomb exploded, Wells reportedly told state troopers that he had been forced at gunpoint to put on the collar.

According to prosecutors, Wells had been part of the plot at the beginning, but may have been told the bomb was a fake and had likely not realized that his life was in danger until it was too late.

William Rothstein was a substitute science teacher and handyman who died of cancer before the case went to trial. According to prosecutors, Rothstein built the bomb with two egg timers, which had been given to him by Diehl-Armstrong.

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Kenneth Barnes pleaded guilty to the crime, testifying against Diehl-Armstrong, saying she had wanted to rob the bank to use the money to pay for Barnes to kill her father. He remains in prison, serving a 45-year sentence.

James Roden, who was Diehl-Armstrong's live-in boyfriend, was killed two weeks before the robbery. Diehl-Armstrong pleaded guilty to killing him, saying he had been abusive. According to U.S. Attorney Marshall Piccinini, she killed Roden because he had threatened to reveal the plot to authorities.

Diehl-Armstrong said she had been framed for the bank robbery plot, while her defense attorney, Douglas Sughrue, said that because of her allegedly abusive relationship with Roden and her mental illness, she was unlikely to have been involved in the plot.

A federal appeals court rejected Diehl-Armstrong's bid for a new trial in 2016.

Sources: Daily Mail, New York Daily News / Photo credit: Public Domain via Daily Mail

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