The strangest robbery.
September 2, 2003 2:22 AM   Subscribe

The strangest robbery. A pizza delivery man delivers a pizza to a "remote location." Later he's found robbing a bank, claiming someone else is making him do this and that person put a remote controlled bomb around his neck. The pizza man gets caught and his head shortly explodes in front of the police. Now one of his friends and co-worker is found dead. It doesn't get much weirder than this. Semi-graphic video in story.
posted by skallas (86 comments total)

 
If this is true, needless to say, there is some sick bastard(s) in Pennsylvania.
posted by skallas at 2:25 AM on September 2, 2003


This story is so saddening and horrendous. The worst part for me is that the police did nothing - probably because they weren't able to do anything as bomb disposal is a difficult and time-consuming task - and just had to sit there until this guy blew up.

I have no idea what happened but from the way the guy talks it does sound like he is innocent, like he has genuinely been forced into this situation. We'll see I suppose.
posted by skylar at 2:28 AM on September 2, 2003


The police were waiting for the bomb disposal squad. That is a very sad story.
posted by Resonance at 2:31 AM on September 2, 2003


According to another article (somewhere cant find it) it only took 9 minutes for bomb disposal to reach the scene. Still a few minutes too late. Also the conspiracy theories are flying. Was the friend the "mastermind?"

I'm just completely creeped out. This is too "Hollywood Insane Killer" for me.
posted by skallas at 2:35 AM on September 2, 2003


I knew Dick Cheney was a crook, but he really shouldn't be ordering pizza, with his condition.
posted by condour75 at 2:36 AM on September 2, 2003


See this why the pizza delivery dude deserves a big tip, while some sassy flo who pours your coffee deserves pocket change.
posted by dgaicun at 2:53 AM on September 2, 2003


Could be a good incentive, ensuring you get your pizza within thirty minutes. What makes me sad is that without the police intervention, the guy just might maybe perhaps have been okay.

I blame PHONE BOOTH.
posted by scissorfish at 2:54 AM on September 2, 2003


This MO was used 3 years ago in Columbia to extort money from a civilian. She died, as did the bomb disposal expert. Three others were maimed.

If it turns out this guy was forced into committing the robbery, I have to say I would have liked him to have escaped the scene.
posted by davehat at 3:14 AM on September 2, 2003


My knowledge of bombs is severely limited but could he have just jumped into a lake or something to short out the electronics? Mind you it was probably done by remote control and the "mastermind" was probably watching him... creepy.

Poor Guy.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 3:35 AM on September 2, 2003


He talks about a timer, perhaps a remotely activated timer. Still, why did he go to rob the bank instead of going to the police right away?
posted by magullo at 3:46 AM on September 2, 2003


Dillonlikescookies,

maybe, but maybe the bomber considered that and dipped it in epoxy, much like is done in a lot of consumer electronics to stifle efforts at reverse engineering. Water and electronics also doesn't instantly mean dead electronics, and even if it does, dead electronics doesn't mean that it would die in a manner beneficial to you.
posted by substrate at 3:49 AM on September 2, 2003


Why didn't the police shoot him with a paralysis dart, and then take the bomb off him and take it to a safe distance for it to explode?

Oh... because that kind of stuff only happens on TV?
posted by skylar at 3:51 AM on September 2, 2003


magullo,

because somebody may detonate his head. It's like having a gun pointed to your head. You know that police would be awfully nice to have around in this situation but that yelling for them or anything else would probably result in the trigger being pulled.
posted by substrate at 3:52 AM on September 2, 2003


Where was Superman while all this was happening?

that aside, I watched the news clip, quite harrowing really.
posted by Frasermoo at 3:53 AM on September 2, 2003


Man.
It really kills me that the justice system is fallible, so I can't take a principled pro-CP stance. Because the sick fuck that does this sort of shit deserves to be caught and flayed.

Well. Here's hoping they find him, he resists arrest, and is shot to death in a firefight.
posted by kavasa at 4:08 AM on September 2, 2003


This reminds me of the IRA tactic of 'proxy-bombing' that was all the rage from the early to late-80's in Northern Ireland.

Basically, a bunch of armed goons would turn up at some guy's house (often a builder, postman or civilian contractor), beat the crap out of the wife and kids, and abduct them. The husband was then given a choice between driving his explosives-leaden vehicle into the target (usually the courtyard of an army barracks or RUC station) where it would be detonated by remote-control, or otherwise the aforementioned wife and kids would be shot. Charming, and alas not uncommon at the time, as I recall.
posted by Doozer at 4:20 AM on September 2, 2003


The image of this guy sitting handcuffed in the road, begging for help and saying "I don't have a lot of time" as understandably wary cops just watch him from a distance is haunting me.

Also, the story I just linked to includes a quote I don't understand: "He pulled a key out and started a timer. I heard the thing ticking when he did it," police said.
When did he start a timer? Why? Or was that cops quoting the dead guy quoting the killer?
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:22 AM on September 2, 2003


Still, why did he go to rob the bank instead of going to the police right away?

I thought about the same thing. The article does mention that the bomb was particularly dangerous to defuse. Perhaps the person who put it around Wells' neck told him that he had better chances of robbing the bank and returning to have it removed, than going to the police and taking his chances with them?
posted by Ljubljana at 4:24 AM on September 2, 2003


I wonder whether or not the police officers should be held culpable for his death, since they prevented the man from taking direct action to save his life by completing his 'mission?'

They could have followed the man discreetly, and arrested the "evil criminal mastermind" (as I feel compelled to call him) behind the crime, once the victim was safe.

Manslaughter charges for the police involved?
posted by Blue Stone at 4:41 AM on September 2, 2003


CunningLinguist: The quote puts bias on the story you linked to but I'd like to think it was just bad editing, since a paragraph up it says he was cuffed:
Police had just cuffed Wells as a bank robbery suspect when he told them a bomb was tied to his body, reports CBS News Correspondent Mika Brzezinski.

[yadda yadda]

"He pulled a key out and started a timer. I head the thing ticking when he did it," police said.
I have always assumed that CBS news reporting was accurate but the rush to get news on the web often seems to ride roughshod over editing standards....

On Preview

Blue Stone: I was wondering the same thing about letting him "complete his mission", I mean surely this is not the usual claim from a freshly detained bank robber? Is it?
posted by davehat at 4:49 AM on September 2, 2003


Well, you can't really let a man who has a bomb attached to him go walking around, you never know who's going to get hurt. At least this way the damage was 'contained'.
posted by chrid at 4:49 AM on September 2, 2003


An Innocent man was killed today. No words on a post can really meet the emotion and situation that these people have gone through so far. My only wish is that the people (or person) involved is caught and raped repeatedly in prison, whilst being choked to death with his own socks. At least until he faints. Then raped again and finally sliced with sharpened spoons until he (or they) bleed to death alone. I hope my tax dollars help this in some way.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:14 AM on September 2, 2003


Preemptively, I hope no one thinks I am exaggerating. I swear on my life that I hope this happens.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:22 AM on September 2, 2003


Horrific. However, to those tempted to place blame on the police by interfering with this mission - how likely do you think it that had he completed his mission the culprit would have removed the bomb and said "off you go, then". A response time of 9 minutes (is that right?) actually sounds pretty good to me - and the police, doubtless in a dilemma, really did the only realistic thing they could - as tragic and horrific as the outcome was. You might say the learning here should be reducing bomb-disposal response times, but doubtless if they do that, the next story will be about a late coast guard...
posted by nthdegx at 5:30 AM on September 2, 2003


That is just horrible. I cannot see how the police could have done more than they did. How would you feel if you were told by someone you just arrested that he was wearing a bomb? Would you call his bluff and have a look, perhaps ending up with your own head blown off by triggering an anti-tamper mechanism? Standard procedure (and plain common sense) would say call those who know how to deal with it.
posted by dg at 5:47 AM on September 2, 2003


yeh, i was pretty shocked when i heard this and i couldn't help thinking what that man must have been going through in his last moments. i agree with others who've said that there was very little the cops could have done to save the guy.
posted by poopy at 6:03 AM on September 2, 2003


I wonder whether or not the police officers should be held culpable for his death, since they prevented the man from taking direct action to save his life by completing his 'mission?' ... Manslaughter charges for the police involved?

I agree, Blue Stone. This story is really about the actions of the cops. Those dirty rat bastards essentially killed this man. Police need to be held to the standard of omniscience. Anything less, and it's off to jail.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:16 AM on September 2, 2003


Horrible. The bomb around the neck reminds me of Battle Royale.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:20 AM on September 2, 2003


To those who think the police action was sensible, then, I ask you to consider a similar scenario.

A man robs a bank and says that unless he arrives at a certain checkpoint by a certain time, his wife and daughter who are being held prisoner, will be killed by their kidnapper.

Would the police detain him in that circumstance? And if the wife and child were later found dead, wouldn't the police be responsible for detaining the man, and the subsequent deaths?

With the timer on the bomb ticking, and his race to get to the only person able to defuse the bomb in time thwarthed by the police, I would still assert that the police are responsible for this man's death with their incompetent and unthinking solution.

They prevented this man, who was desperately trying to save his own life, from doing so, with their limited thinking.

[on preview, pardonyou? I'm not saying that the police are responsible for his murder, that's a charge easily levelled solely at the bomb-maker, but they did thwart his attempts to save his own life, and I reckon comitted manslaughter [a charge that can be levelled against somone where death occurs through negligence or incompetence.]]
posted by Blue Stone at 6:21 AM on September 2, 2003


I too wondered whether the police ought to have let the pizza chap attempt to return to base, but I suppose they would've been duty bound to clear all traffic on the route back to base, etc. and there presumably wasn't time. I feel for the police (and you won't hear me say that too often) - must've been hard to resist the temptation to try to help him remove the bomb.

Oh, and Keyser Soze - yeah, nice one, whatever... I never get all the whingeing about a left-wing hegemony on MetaFilter when ridicluous knee-jerk bullshit comments like that one seem to far outweigh the wooly liberalisms.
posted by jack_mo at 6:29 AM on September 2, 2003


An Innocent man was killed today

Not to be cynical, but have the police found any info yet that rules out the possibility that the guy made the bomb himself? ( I'm not saying he did, but has that scenario been ruled out yet?)
posted by stifford at 6:32 AM on September 2, 2003


as far as i know stifford, you're right: they still aren't sure whether or not he had some kind of prior involvement in this.
posted by poopy at 6:42 AM on September 2, 2003


It's ridiculous to assume that police should perfectly handle any twisted situation that some sick person comes up with. The details of this story have emerged over time after this happened; all necessary information was not available to the police at the time of the explosion, and they're still not sure exactly what happened.

It's easy to sit back and second-guess the situation, but had the police simply let this guy go, you might not be so happy had he gone off sitting next to your parent/spouse/child at a stoplight.

So the police had to feel helpless--more so than we feel as passive video viewers--and watch while a guy blew up in front of them. Yes, let's charge them with manslaughter, because the fact that they will probably always blame themselves is not enough punishment.
posted by troybob at 6:44 AM on September 2, 2003


but they did thwart his attempts to save his own life, and I reckon comitted manslaughter [a charge that can be levelled against somone where death occurs through negligence or incompetence

Where's the evidence of negligence or incompetence? Your standard is much higher -- omniscience. You're requiring the police to set aside their principal function (to prevent and solve crimes -- in this case an armed robbery) simply on the word of the suspect. If that were the litmus test, the police would be mighty ineffective. Isn't the most responsible course of action to attempt to defuse the device? Nobody knew how long the bomb had to go off. It sounds like they were prepared to respond in minutes. Yet you think prosecution for the police is in order because it went off sooner. In my humble opinion, your post reflects complete ignorance about the proper role and function of police.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:48 AM on September 2, 2003


Thanks for posting this skallas - I'd been debating posting it myself. This story has been haunting me, it's so creepy in so many ways. I wonder what the whole story will turn out to be. In some ways I hope that the guy attached the bomb to himself, and that the whole pizza delivery thing was just a story - it'd still be sad, but it wouldn't be quite as creepy.

Or was that cops quoting the dead guy quoting the killer?

Yes. That's the dead guy talking about what the killer did.

I more or less agree with troybob and pardonyou?. The police had no way of knowing that what they were dealing with was an innocent victim (assuming that his story is true, which we still don't know), instead of a deranged bankrobber who attached a bomb to himself to avoid capture. I do think they handled this as well as could be expected, given that things probably seemed a lot different without knowing (or having had time to verify) any of the man's story. All they knew was that they had a bankrobber with a bomb strapped to him so the best they could do was keep themselves and everyone else at a safe distance until the bomb squad arrived.

Keyser Soze - come on man, get a grip.
posted by biscotti at 6:51 AM on September 2, 2003


A friend and co-worker of the delivery man's was just found dead in his home but police say theres no reason to think theres a connection. Really? NO reason?
posted by BigPicnic at 7:12 AM on September 2, 2003


At Mama Mia's Pizza-Ria, your pizza is delivered in 30 minutes or less or the Pizza guy blows up.

[I know I’m horribly tasteless. Please don't hurt me, MeFi...]
posted by wfrgms at 7:12 AM on September 2, 2003


This might be a silly question and beside the point, but--

How did the 'mastermind' get the bomb around this guy's neck in the first place? I mean, did he tell him to close his eyes and prepare to receive a pretty pearl necklace, only to have a ticked bomb placed on him? That tiny detail is what makes me almost suspicious that the delivery guy was somehow complicit (though surely he wasn't).
posted by dhoyt at 7:14 AM on September 2, 2003


um...yes... i'll take a large pepperoni with onions, peppers, olives, and hold the brain bits please.
posted by poopy at 7:17 AM on September 2, 2003


By the time the police knew what was going on, the guy was probably cuffed. Try finding a cop willing to uncuff him AND willing to take responsibility for the guy getting behind the wheel to go to meetup point.

My question is why they didn't send a guy in a tshirt in his car to the place themselves. Could that have hurt? I mean, it's not like they weren't getting paid while they sat there and watched this man's chest explode.
posted by Busithoth at 7:21 AM on September 2, 2003


i was thinking the same thing dhoyt, but it could have been as simple as holding a gun to his head, threatening to shoot him as he/she/they strapped the bomb on.
posted by poopy at 7:23 AM on September 2, 2003


I guess there are a lot of people happy that the next time police encounter the same situation, they should act in exactly the same way.
posted by Blue Stone at 7:25 AM on September 2, 2003


I was left wondering why the victim didn't explain what he was to do to complete his mission? Was he just to return to a location, and if so could he have explained that to the police so they'd have some sort of lead. The audio on the original link seems to deal more with the fact that there's a bomb on him, not that there's someone out who put a bomb on him and could be found at such-and-such place.
Hopefully more details will come out soon.
(on preview, what Busithoth said)
posted by jmackin at 7:29 AM on September 2, 2003


substrate,

Again, the story talks about a *timer*, a device that, even when activated remotely, will not explode the bomb inmediately.

My question still is: why not go directly to the police with the story instead of trying to rob a bank, risk being caught and in the process risk having to do the explaning in way worse circumstances.

Arguably, this requires a bit of cold-headed thinking along the lines of: "I'm pretty much screwed - what are my options?"
posted by magullo at 7:31 AM on September 2, 2003


At Mama Mia's Pizza-Ria, your pizza is delivered in 30 minutes or less or the Pizza guy blows up.

Too funny. Talk about motivating employees!
posted by a3matrix at 7:31 AM on September 2, 2003


Would the police detain him in that circumstance? And if the wife and child were later found dead, wouldn't the police be responsible for detaining the man, and the subsequent deaths?


You're romantizing the story, worse than when it first broke, no story at all. He was single, so your what "if" has none. This story gets more complicated each day will add but the police make it out to be an ordinary robbery from the get go, which it is not. A co-worker is found dead and the police say not related, yet days later they're now saying it's related, gee you think.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:34 AM on September 2, 2003


I'm not happy, Blue Stone but considering that more than one person could have died I'm willing to accept the outcome as is. I just hope there never is another "same situation".
posted by tommasz at 7:35 AM on September 2, 2003


My question is why they didn't send a guy in a tshirt in his car to the place themselves.

After showing the delivery guy surrounded by Police on live TV, I think the robbers (?, masterminds? Killers?) would have figure out something was up when the car pulled up to the rendevous site (if there was one...).
posted by stifford at 7:35 AM on September 2, 2003


Well, Blue Stone, this is surely the first time the police involved in this case ever came across a situation like this. The next time they encounter it, they might benefit from what they learned this time around. But given the complexity of the situation and the time constraint involved, I wouldn't be surprised if the outcome is the same.

In any case, I'd say it's not such a great life skill to assume that real life should work out as it would in a clever film or TV script. In the real world, we all know James Bond would be dead in the first scene.
posted by troybob at 7:40 AM on September 2, 2003


The next time they encounter it, they might benefit from what they learned this time around.

The history of bank robberies involving bombs usually not being real, bet the fact that it an actual bomb played into this too.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:27 AM on September 2, 2003


In any case, I'd say it's not such a great life skill to assume that real life should work out as it would in a clever film or TV script. In the real world, we all know James Bond would be dead in the first scene.


from herpes.
posted by fuq at 8:55 AM on September 2, 2003


Fuck Fox News for showing that video. Tabloid.
posted by xmutex at 8:56 AM on September 2, 2003


For the record, in the video link (from the article) they don't actually show the bomb exploding. They just show a couple of cops behind a police cruiser, and then you hear the bomb explode (off camera). Then you see the police approach the body.
posted by stifford at 9:05 AM on September 2, 2003


Does anyone know just what kind of bomb he had around his neck?

- If it was a time bomb, I'm wondering why he didn't just go to the police first - he would probably have had a slim chance of losing the bomb even if he followed the mastermind's plan, so he might as well have went straight to the police.

- And if it was a RC bomb, couldn't the police have gotten hold of some sort of device to block the radio waves/whatever that controlled the thing? I'm not a physicist, but I imagine those things exist.

Either way it's easy for us to second-guess. Both the police and the pizza guy must have been panic-struck.
posted by Hjorth at 9:20 AM on September 2, 2003


At a news conference Tuesday, Rudge showed photographs of the triple-banded metal collar he said was around Wells' neck and a device with a locking mechanism that kept it in place. The bomb was attached to the collar, authorities said.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:23 AM on September 2, 2003


stifford: Even so......

As far as I can remember, the whole of the incident I linked to earlier was caught on camera. I don't really think that a video is necessary to get the story across in this instance, but if you're determined and you google hard enough, you'd probably find it somewhere.
posted by davehat at 9:25 AM on September 2, 2003


Blue Stone, your hypothetical is ridiculous. Try this one: they put him back in his car and let him go, the bomb goes off as he's driving, and his car rams a van full of nuns, each of whom is holding a baby. No, two babies. Still sure that's the cops' best move?

Besides, if that's what cops did, then every guy they ever caught in the act would just say "uh, my wife and tiny, tiny babies! The bad man has them! You must let me go, and follow me inconspicuously!"

I don't think so.
posted by nicwolff at 9:33 AM on September 2, 2003


In earlier reports on this story Wells' neighbors described him as "almost child-like", so maybe he didn't have the mental capacity to figure a way out of his situation. Being scared to death on top of it, I doubt many folks could think rationally at a time like that.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:37 AM on September 2, 2003


davehat, I wasn't trying to say that the video link couldn't be considered graphic (or whether it was necessary to get the point across). I just saw xmutex's post, and thought people might think you saw the actual explosion in the link to the original article (I remember when we were talking about the Daniel Pearl video, there was some arguement to what was actually seen in the video link). People can think "Fuck Foxnews" as much as they like, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by stifford at 9:37 AM on September 2, 2003


so maybe he didn't have the mental capacity to figure a way out of his situation

That, combined with the reported age of the victim being 46 (I don't know many pizza delivery people that age, and I order a lot of pizza. Then again, I live close to a large university...) makes me wonder if this is not a correct assessment of the victim's capacity. Sad.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:59 AM on September 2, 2003


The only thing that strokes me as strange about the police behaviour is that they approached the newly dead corpse with guns drawn and raised. I appreciate you don't want to take chances but, y'know, his head just exploded.
posted by vbfg at 10:09 AM on September 2, 2003


I'm wondering why he didn't just go to the police first - he would probably have had a slim chance of losing the bomb even if he followed the mastermind's plan, so he might as well have went straight to the police.

(far from the only comment suggesting this, just the most recent). But wouldn't walking into a police station with a probably active bomb be a good way to not get help? The guy was pretty much screwed from the get-go, especially if, as pointed out, he possibly wasn't the most quickly thinking individual.

As an aside, anyone else thought that this scenario would make a great Coen Bros. film?
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:11 AM on September 2, 2003


showed photographs of the triple-banded metal collar
Yet to see it.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:12 AM on September 2, 2003


Straight out of the plot of Jackie Chan's Police Story II.

creepy
posted by infowar at 10:40 AM on September 2, 2003


How did the 'mastermind' get the bomb around this guy's neck in the first place? I mean, did he tell him to close his eyes and prepare to receive a pretty pearl necklace, only to have a ticked bomb placed on him?

A gun to his head? A threat to kill his mother? A promise to resign as Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President?
posted by mathis23 at 11:06 AM on September 2, 2003


Here's one indistinct pic of the bomb.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:31 AM on September 2, 2003


I'm really, really hoping no terrorists get any ideas from this. Involuntary suicide bombings - just what we need.
posted by orange swan at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2003


I'm really, really hoping no terrorists get any ideas from this. Involuntary suicide bombings - just what we need.

A 'necklace of death' was used three years ago by the FARC in Colombia, as a tactic for extortion. Somehow I think that if there were ideas to be gained from the practice, they're already in circulation.
posted by riviera at 11:51 AM on September 2, 2003


My initial reaction when I heard about the second guy dieing, and more specifically, about how the first time the ambulance came (called by his parents), he refused medical attention, was that the two of them had cooked up some crazy scheme together, and the friend had killed himself when it all went wrong. But now, I'm leaning towards thinking the second death was more of a accidental overdose during binge drug-taking to deal with the grief of the loss of his friend. I worked as a pizza delivery person in college, and had coworkers who got robbed occasionaly when they'd meet someone at the park-n-ride that was our delivery-zone-limit. Given the number of previous similar schemes people have turned up, sounds more and more like just a sad story of the modern world, than anything else.
posted by nomisxid at 1:21 PM on September 2, 2003


This story scares the hell out of me. That poor guy.

Anyone else thinking about the Mafia-run high-speed pizza delivery service in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash?
posted by swerve at 2:51 PM on September 2, 2003


Scenario:
A guy walks into a police station and says that he has a bomb strapped around his neck that could go off at any time. Remembering that this is a time of total paranoia about terrorist attacks and that suicide bombers are now the norm rather than the exception, what would you do? Sit him down and ask him how you can help, or jump on him, handcuff him and drag him the hell away from anywhere he can do damage (or, more likely, shoot him several times and evacuate the building until the bomb squad gets there). If you think that this scenario would lead to anything but an extreme and violent reaction, you are living in another century.

assuming that the victim had no voluntary part to play in the events, the dilemma he faced was awesome. You could make a reasonable assumption that he had been told the only way to stop the bomb going off was to get back to whoever put it on (without the police in tow) and that, if he went to the police, the device would be detonated by remote control. What would you do? Most likely, he was doomed from the time he got in his car to deliver the pizza - I cannot imagine that whoever is behind this did not intend to detonate the device anyway once he (or she) got the money, to reduce the possibility of being identified.

In any case, the police acted in the way that they have to - with the interests of the community at the forefront. They could not have known how powerful the device was or what sort of damage it could do. I was quite surprised to see them standing so close to him while they waited for the bomb squad, in fact.

Prediction: This is not the last time we will see a crime like this. Maybe this was just a test run for something bigger?
posted by dg at 3:22 PM on September 2, 2003


my2c (which is actually worth a lot less than 2c) is that i think Wells was in on it. a few reasons why ...

1) he went ahead with the robbery, which was surely not his best move if the device was triggered by a timer, as he supposedly said it was. (you can certainly speculate that he's retarded b/c he's delivering pizzas at age 46, but none of the articles i saw said that, so go fuck your stereotypes (for now)).

2) (from Fox News) Well says, "It's going to go off ... I'm not lying." so how does he know that? i can understand something like, "Believe me, this guy was serious. I think it's real," etc. etc., but not "It's going to go off" - i don't think most people (especially the mentally handicapped, as many have suggested Wells was) would be able to tell a real bomb from a good fake. it would help to have the whole transcript of his comments, but i couldn't find that.

3) it doesn't seem like the most effective way to rob a bank (not that i know much about it). what are the odds of an unskilled pizza delivery man with no preparation successfully robbing a bank? 0.1% at the best? (yes, that's an arbitrary percentage, but i'd bet the odds are even lower.) plus, there's also the trail of the delivery address, the phone call (was it recorded?), and of course the possibility of the police (or others) saving Wells and then having Wells identify the bomber. yes, the bomber could have just been an "evil madmen," but despite TV reports to the contrary, there aren't that many evil madmen out there.

4) the biggest reason, from CBS News, is the unattributed quote from the police: "He pulled a key out and started a timer. I heard the thing ticking when he did it." Yes, Wells was handcuffed, but the police could have been referring to before he was apprehended. the reporting in these stories is all over the place, but it sounds like there was a brief standoff before his capture. there's no way around that quote, however. if he pulled a key out and it started ticking, that's fairly powerful evidence.

anyway, just my 2c. it'll be curious to see what the investigation turns up. it seems like the police have plenty of leads. i was surprised to see how many people resolved that Wells was a victim. i wouldn't be surprised to find out everyone is right, but i'd bet that there's another explanation.

to me, here's the basic sticking point: if you were abducted, attached to a timed bomb (i don't think that's a accepted fact yet, but that's what Wells claimed), then set free to go rob a bank and return with the money, after which your would-be murderer claims you'll be freed, how many of you would rob the bank and how many of you would go straight to the police? aside from saving your own skin, alerting the police would be the likeliest way to ensure that others aren't injured as well. i just don't buy Wells' story. i'd believe it with some more evidence, but i don't buy it yet.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:50 PM on September 2, 2003


As a former pizza delivery driver myself, you cannot imagine how much this story disturbs me. I always felt pretty safe while delivering, but... damn. I could have nightmares about this sort of thing.
posted by litlnemo at 4:00 PM on September 2, 2003


>how many of you would rob the bank and how many of you would go straight to the police?

I don't think anyone would go to the police. In a situation like this no one is thinking rationally and saving your skin usually equals being doing what you're told. Plus there might be other incentives to do as told not to mention if it was remote controlled then the killer would know if he was breaking away from the plan.

I can't imagine Welles being in on this, in the end you have to deal with the fact that the device was real and killed him. I would think a fake robbery would mean a fake bomb or at least something that wouldnt kill or wouldnt go off until it was removed. Robbery isn't a death penalty, so the idea to kill one's self if caught doesn't make sense.
posted by skallas at 4:26 PM on September 2, 2003


it doesn't seem like the most effective way to rob a bank (not that i know much about it)

From the stories I've read, it was 100% effective as Wells made off with money. Witnesses at the bank were able to catch his license number, and police did eventually surround him in a parking lot, but the robbery itself was a success. I don't know how far he got, but I would figure if Wells was in on it he'd have some escape route planned, possibly switching or ditching his car. The fact that he was so unprepared with really no plan of action leads me to believe he really had no clue of what was going on and no idea what to do.
posted by re.becca at 5:03 PM on September 2, 2003


Look at the blow-ups of the collar on the FBI site: here and here.

My impression from these photos is that there is no way this was somehow a scheme by Wells and someone else that went wrong. The collar and the locking device are way too elaborate and heavy-duty for the mere purpose of just scaring the bank into handing over the money. For that, all you would need is a red shoebox and some wires sticking out. This device looks heavily engineered to be secure from cutting/defusing. What is the point of that?

Surely not to scare the bank ("no sir, we will not hand over the money because your bomb looks sort of fake and easily removed!") To scare Wells? Why not just tell him it is tamper proof -- how is he going to figure otherwise? He can't look at it, after all. The only purpose I can think of is to make sure Wells dies if he does not return with the money. Like if he ran to this police (as some have suggested in this thread).

This is really bad.
posted by Mid at 5:16 PM on September 2, 2003


mrgrimm:

1) If the bomb is on a timer, and you're convinced that the cops won't be able to disarm it before it blows but that the guy who put it on you can, why wouldn't you do what he says?

2) Once caught, if you even think that you might have a real bomb around your neck, you pretty much have to do your best to convince the cops that it is real. You're certainly not going to say "hey, this ticking thing around my neck? The guy who put it there said it was a bomb."

3) It may not be the simplest way to rob a bank, but it almost worked!

4) I don't get this at all - why would the guy not start the timer till he was face-to-face with the cops? If his plan was to blow himself up, why would he start a timer at all, rather then simply trigger the device?

And as to whether I'd rob the bank or go to the cops since that's "the likeliest way to ensure that others aren't injured as well"... fuck other people, I've got a bomb around my neck!

Look, imagine that it's all true - you show up to deliver a pizza, someone sticks a gun in your face and says "put on this big metal neck-cuff", and tells you it will blow up in half an hour unless you're at place X with a bag of money.

Yes, you can tell a cop, and if he believes you, and if he can get the bomb squad in time, and if they can defuse the bomb fast enough, then you live. Or, you can rob the bank, and if you get away, you live. You can bet on your own ability, or gamble on the perspicacity and acumen of others... I know what I'd do.

[On preview - that thing is fucking cool!]
posted by nicwolff at 5:39 PM on September 2, 2003


he had been told the only way to stop the bomb going off was to get back to whoever put it on (without the police in tow) and that, if he went to the police, the device would be detonated by remote control. What would you do? Most likely, he was doomed from the time he got in his car to deliver the pizza - I cannot imagine that whoever is behind this did not intend to detonate the device anyway once he (or she) got the money, to reduce the possibility of being identified.

This is armchair theorizing, but I wonder if I were in this situation if the best decision might not be to flip out on the person putting the bomb on you and give them a big hug. It would occur to me very quickly in this situation that if I had any way of IDing the person in question, I'd likely be dead at some point anyway. In such a case, you either play Mexican Bus Driver with the villain, or you run to the authorities....
posted by weston at 5:43 PM on September 2, 2003


The confusion over this quote is partly my fault for bringing it up and mostly the wire for messing up the attribution.

"He pulled a key out and started a timer. I heard the thing ticking when he did it." - this is the pizza delivery man talking to cops, not cops talking.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:44 PM on September 2, 2003


unattributed quote from the police: "He pulled a key out and started a timer. I heard the thing ticking when he did it." Yes, Wells was handcuffed, but the police could have been referring to before he was apprehended. the reporting in these stories is all over the place, but it sounds like there was a brief standoff before his capture. there's no way around that quote, however. if he pulled a key out and it started ticking, that's fairly powerful evidence.

That quote is from Wells, not the police (or it's the police quoting Wells). That quote is Wells describing what the person who put the bomb on him did. See here: "From the television tape, it was clear that Wells was trying to indicate that someone had "started a timer" on the bomb under his T-shirt and that he had little time before the explosive detonated."
posted by biscotti at 5:48 PM on September 2, 2003


when i was a little younger, my parents used to get on my ass: "eric, why don't you get a job or something, maybe become a pizza deliveryman?"

"because - duhhhh - there's this guy out there who will force me to wear a bomb around my neck so i can rob a bank for him and i do rob the bank with the bomb wrapped around my head because i'm freaking and i'm driving away but i get pulled over by the cops and i try to tell them that i got a fucking bomb latched onto my body and they're like, 'oh yeah, right buddy' and then they laugh and say i smell funny and i'm like, 'hey man, i'm gonna die!' and they just laugh some more and then it explodes and my fucking head blows off! jeez mom and dad, get real."
posted by poopy at 6:31 PM on September 2, 2003


some sort of device to block the radio waves/whatever

tin foil hat?
posted by quonsar at 7:43 PM on September 2, 2003


the biggest reason, from CBS News, is the unattributed quote from the police: "He pulled a key out and started a timer. I heard the thing ticking when he did it."

i read that as the poor guy telling the police what had been done to him in an attempt to convince the police that he was about to blow up. apparently, many have read it as the police saying the man himself armed the bomb.
posted by quonsar at 7:47 PM on September 2, 2003


as to whether i'd rob the bank or go to the police...? no contest: rob the bank.
posted by dobbs at 8:10 PM on September 2, 2003


Following up on the comment above suggesting that this bomb was similar to a device used by the FARC in Colombia -- check out this news story today that says that the explosive is like one used in Bogota but not typical to the US.

Weirder and weirder.
posted by Mid at 10:03 AM on September 3, 2003


While waiting for a bomb squad to arrive, the bomb exploded. -- from Mid's second link

Knock, knock.

      Who's there?

Impatient bomb!

      Impatient bomb wh--

BOOM!
posted by nicwolff at 11:46 AM on September 3, 2003


« Older Near Earth Objects...  |  George W Bush analysed... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments