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Timeline of a serial bank robber

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 23rd, 2013

Carl Frederick Kieffer is arrested in a field in Swansea, Ill. approximately eight miles from his last bank robbery.Photo/Derik Holtmann-Belleville News-Democrat

The man accused of seven bank robberies committed over a two-month period, and four state region was arrested on Oct. 15 in Swansea, Illinois. It is not known why 49 year old Carl Frederick Kieffer, a resident of Spokane, Wash., began a journey of crime, but what has been discovered involved numerous state and federal agencies, covering 4,008 miles, in a collaboration to end his felonious spree.

According to Lusk Chief of Police, Sean Dreesen, Kieffer was known to have an apartment in Spokane, Wash. and a job at a Jack-in-the- Box restaurant. He has family connections in Michigan, one of the bank robberies occurred within 60 miles of where his family members are believed to live. Kieffer has an extensive criminal background with multiple felonies related to fraud, larceny and burglary as well as being known for using multiple aliases and Social Security numbers. “He has pretty much been institutionalized his whole life”, Dreesen states. In August, Kieffer traveled to Post Falls, Idaho where he reportedly stole a gray Chevrolet extended cab pickup. He then traveled to Rawlins, Wyo. where he illegally obtained a set of dealer plates and continued on to Lusk, Wyo.

Lusk State Bank has been in operation since 1926 and has never had a robbery in that long history. That changed on Aug. 26. Kieffer entered Lusk State Bank and approached a teller. He presented a handwritten note, inferring that he had a weapon, although one was not produced and demanded cash. He fled with approximately $7,000 in cash. Bank employee Tom Dooper followed the suspect and was able to provide authorities with a description of the vehicle and direction of travel. “I want to thank Tom Dooper. It took courage to do what he did. Without Mr. Dooper we wouldn’t have the pickup and without the pickup we would not have been able to identify the suspect,” Dreesen said. Lusk Police Department Assistant Police Chief, Jim Frye remained at Lusk State Bank, assisting FBI Special Agent Jim Patrick, while Dreesen and the remainder of the Lusk Police Department, Niobrara County Sheriff’s Office, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Wyoming Game and Fish, Wyoming Department of Corrections/Wyoming Women’s Center and Niobrara County Search and Rescue continued the search for the suspect.

The vehicle was found abandoned just west of Lusk close to Ron and Dory Pfister’s residence. Authorities conducted a thorough search of the area and residence. Niobrara County Search and Rescue identified the suspect’s trail and followed the signs to the railroad tracks. After Kieffer’s arrest, he admitted that he escaped on a train and remained on that train for approximately one and a half days. “I commend the Niobrara County Search And Rescue for their marvelous job that day. They train hard and their training paid off that day of the robbery,” said Dreesen. All schools were placed on lockdown until 4 p.m., the day of the robbery. Dreesen appreciated the community’s understanding of the necessity of keeping the children safe. “In one community, the schools remained on lockdown until 1:30 a.m.,” stated Dreesen.

The LPD took possession of the vehicle and contacted the Wyoming Crime Lab located in Cheyenne, Wyo. When the crime lab processed the evidence, they recovered two, full fingerprints, one off of the demand note and one from the vehicle. This evidence was given to the LPD and hand delivered by Assistant Police Chief Jim Frye to DCI in Cheyenne. In less than a week, DCI provided LPD with Kieffer’s identity. FBI SA Jim Patrick then went to the Grand Jury to obtain a federal arrest warrant for Kieffer.

Kieffer surfaced next in Novi, Mich. on Sept. 5 where he was photographed on surveillance cameras at the Chase Bank. He approached the teller with a note inferring a weapon and demanding cash. He escaped with an unknown amount of cash.

On Sept. 13 Kieffer entered the New Carlisle Federal Savings Bank in Tipp City, Ohio and handed the teller a ten-dollar bill requesting change. When the teller returned with his change, Kieffer produced a note stating he had a gun and requesting specific denominations of cash. After receiving the cash, he told the teller to remain calm and walk to the bathroom. When she complied, he exited the bank with $1,950.

On Sept. 16 the pattern was repeated at the Bank and Trust in Farmersville, Ill. when a note was passed to a teller stating he had a gun and demanding cash. He escaped with an undisclosed amount of money. When Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Investigator, Rick Furlong, received the crime report he learned of the Lusk, Wyo. robbery and contacted Chief Dreesen. Dreesen, who had been working with Liz Peterson from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department Crime Analysis, gathering material on Kieffer, was able to provide the investigator with valuable information. “ This was the turning point in the case. It went from random events to a serial bank robber”, states Dreesen. Furlong continued to collaborate with the LPD and began contacting other law enforcement agencies from effected communities. Montgomery County SO was able to obtain a state arrest warrant on Oct. 11 for aggravated robbery and requested the United States Marshals Service for assistance.

Kieffer struck again on Oct. 3 at the Huntington National Bank in Bolivar, Ohio netting $2,800 and again on Oct. 9 at the Fifth Third Bank Branch in Charlotte, Mich. Although he escaped with more than $4,000, a dye pack was inserted in the cash envelope. Following the Charlotte, Mich. robbery, the vehicle was recovered and identified as the same vehicle used in the Bolivar, Ohio heist.

For the complete article see the 10-23-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-23-2013 paper.

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