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A new documentary has been released on Netflix in 2018 about a 2003 bank robbery in Erie, Pennsylvania. There has never been a bank robbery quite like this one. What made this one stand out is the fact that the robber had a bomb collar around his neck. Brian Wells was a pizza delivery driver, and on August 28, 2003 he delivered a pizza to a cell tower where he had the bomb strapped to him. He was instructed to rob a bank and bring back a quarter of a million dollars.
He strolled into a PNC Bank on Peach Street with the bomb strapped to his neck and a cane made into a gun. He handed a note explaining that if he didn't get what he wanted, the bomb would go off. He ended up only getting $8,000, strolling casually out of the bank. Pretty quickly, he was surrounded by policemen. He was handcuffed and in a seated position in a parking lot. He explained what happened, that he was instructed to do the robbery and the thing around his neck was really a bomb. Police did nothing. He was pleading for his life, letting them know he did not have enough time, the bomb would go off and was wondering why no one was trying to get it off of his neck.
The bomb started ticking. With camera crews surrounding him, it exploded, leaving him lifeless on the pavement. The bomb blew a hole through his chest and killed him instantly. The only witness is now deceased, making it extremely difficult for the police to find out if Wells was actually telling the truth. This made it difficult for them to find out who was truly the mastermind behind this horrific crime.
While still alive and handcuffed, Wells told the police that he was instructed to get a quarter of a million dollars and go to a given location where there would be a note. On that note, it would give him another location. There were apparently three different locations—like a scavenger hunt—and eventually, he would get the key to unlock the bomb.
After the bomb went off, the police tried to track down the key by completing the scavenger hunt, but no key was found, which left them to believe there never was a key and Wells was supposed to die that day, no matter what he did. They also concluded that, with the amount of time it took the bomb to go off, there is no way at that time of the day that Wells would even be able to get to the key on time.
There were many leads that ended up being nothing, until one man, William Rothstein, alerted police to a dead body in his freezer. He claimed his ex-fiancee, Majorie Deihl-Armstrong killed her boyfriend. While in custody, Deihl-Armstrong supposedly told fellow inmates about the crime and that she was a conspirator. She told them that she had shot her boyfriend because he threatened to expose the collar bomb plot to police.
She later admitted to the crime, but also stated there were more co-conspirators, including William Rothstein, the boyfriend she killed, James Roden, Floyd Stockton, and Kenneth Barnes. She was indicted and found guilty to conspiracy and bank robbery and sentenced to life plus 30 years, but in 2017, she passed away from breast cancer.
Now, one of the questions that comes up is the fact that if Brian Wells was a conspirator as well, which would cause courts to be unable to charge the other co-conspirators to his murder. It is believed that Wells was an active participant when he owed money to a sex worker. It is also believed that the same sex worker, Jessica Hoopsick, was supposed to "recruit" someone for the heist. She chose Brian Wells because she thought he was very easily persuaded and not very bright. Apparently, the night before the robbery, Wells went over to the residence and was fitted for the bomb. Although we will never get the answers, it is believed that he thought the entire thing was a joke and that the bomb was actually a fake—that is, until it started beeping and went off.