Drive-Thru Bank Robbery in Cleveland
by Elroy Willis -- May 25, 2005
CLEVELAND (EAP) -- A Cleveland bank was robbed yesterday from one of its two drive-thru lanes by a man who put dozens of houseflies into the transaction tube along with a note demanding $200,000. Along with the note and flies was a white powder which was dispersed by the flies as they escaped the tube and flew around inside the bank.
"The note said the white powder was a biological virus, and that the antidote for the virus would be sent in via the transaction tube after the money was sent out," said Wilma Rothchild, who complied with the demand, and sent out the money in three separate tubes.
"When the houseflies came flying out of the tube, white powder started filling the air and I didn't know what to do. I took the note out of the tube and after reading it, my heart began to pound and I found myself in a state of panic," she said.
"I started breathing harder and inhaling even more of the white dust as a result, and started praying to God to help me. I smelled something sweet as I prayed to Jesus, and figured He was there to help me after I cried out 'Sweet Jesus, please help me!'"
"Jesus told me that He thought it might be Anthrax or something worse. The note said not to alert the police or press any alarm buttons, or the antidote wouldn't be sent in, and everyone inside would die, so I had no choice but to comply with the robber's demands."
"After I sent out the money, the robber sent in a small bottle of what he said was the antidote, and told me to give a few drops of it to everyone inside the bank. There were five of us in there at the time, and we all drank some of it, thinking it would save us and keep us from dying."
After the robber drove away, Rothchild called 911. While waiting for the police to arrive, she and her co-workers all began feeling dizzy and their vision became blurred, and they began to panic, thinking they were infected with the virus.
"I thought I was losing my mind and felt stranger than I've ever felt," said Toby Williams, teller of the second drive-thru window.
Police chemists tested the antidote and found that it was just ordinary tap water, and say that the bank employees were never really infected with a biological virus and that their symptoms were just the result of nervousness and fear.
"The white powder turned out to be nothing more than powdered sugar, and the 'sweet smell' that Mrs. Rothchild experienced was just sugar particles entering her nose," they said.
There are no current leads to the identity of the man, and it appears that he made a clean getaway.
"He was wearing a heavy-brimmed cowboy hat and big sunglasses, so I couldn't really tell what he looked like beyond that," Rothchild told police.
"I tried to get the license plate number of his truck, but both the front and back plates were covered with mud, and I couldn't read them," she said. "The rest of the truck was muddy as well, so I'm not even sure if it was a Ford or Chevy or something else."