ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Bad Hair Bandit

Bad Hair Bandit suspect charged in Calif.

Get Adobe Flash player

A former Kootenai County Jail nurse who also worked in elementary schools has been charged with robbing 21 banks in Washington, Oregon, California and Montana.

Cynthia Lynn Van Holland, 48, is accused of being the “Bad Hair Bandit,” a serial robber nicknamed by the FBI because she wore a variety of ugly wigs during the heists, which authorities allege netted about $42,000.

Van Holland has been in jail in California since Placer County sheriff's deputies arrested last August after a robbery in Auburn, about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento. Her 26-year-old husband, Christopher Alonzo, an ex-con whom Van Holland met while working as a nurse in Idaho prisons, also was arrested.

Police say the couple had a cat and litter box in their car, as well as more than $8,000 in a Victoria's Secret bag. They also had two wigs and a receipt indicating the items were purchased in Oregon on July 1 - the same day Van Holland is believed to have robbed a bank in Lake Oswego.

Van Holland confessed to the four-state robbery spree in an interview with an FBI agent at the Placer County Jail the day of her arrest, according to court documents. The Bad Hair Bandit had been on the FBI's most wanted list since May.

Placer County District Attorney Ronald Owens commended the Placer County Sheriff's Department for quickly responding to the robbery in Auburn and arrested Van Holland.

“I want to comment the rapid response and diligence of the Placef County Sheriff' Department following he Auburn robbery, for their work in quickly locating and arresting this pair of bank robbers and putting an end to their crime spree.

Van Holland worked as a contract nurse in jails and prisons and met Alonzo, a convicted felon from North Idaho, when he was an inmate. She was working at the Kootenai County Jail until about a week before her arrest and also worked as a school nurse in Western Washington during the robbery spree.

Van Holland is charged with the following robberies:

Dec. 22, 2010: U.S. Bank, Tacoma $2,072
Jan. 5, 2011: Key Bank, Tumwater $1,285
Jan. 12, 2011: Key Bank, Tacoma $1,214
Jan. 14, 2011: Wells Fargo Bank, Spanaway $1,050
Jan. 26, 2011: Cathay Bank, Kent $0
Jan. 27, 2011: First Security Bank, Redmond $441
Feb. 10, 2011: U.S Bank, Auburn, Wash. $965
 Feb. 19, 2011: Wells Fargo Bank, University Place $619
March 25, 2011: Sound Community Bank, Tacoma $1,960
April 9, 2011: Wells Fargo Bank, University Place $440
April 21, 2011: Cathay Bank, Bellevue $2,300
April 26, 2011: Wheatland Bank, Ellensburg $714
April 27, 2011: Key Bank, Moses Lake $2,938
May 9, 2011: Chase Bank, Spokane $1,920
June 7, 2011: Sterling Bank, Moses Lake $6,384
June 28: East West Bank, Sacramento, Calif. $671
June 28: U.S. Bank, Davis, Calif. $1,967
July 1, 2011: Key Bank, Lake Oswego, Ore. $1,600
July 18, 2011: Yakima Federal, Richland, Wash. $3,152
Aug. 11, 2011: Bank of Butte, Butte, Mont. $1,600
Aug. 15, 2011: Bank of the West, Auburn Calif. $8,722

Van Holland had been named a suspect in Jan. 21, 2011, robbery at Heritage Bank in Tacoma but is not charged. She remains in federal custody in California.

Past coverage:

May 12, 2011: Did the Bad Hair Bandit rob two Spokane banks in 2010?

Report: ‘Bad Hair Bandit’ confesses

Get Adobe Flash player

A former nurse at the Kootenai County Jail suspected in a series of bank robberies while wearing a variety of wigs confessed to the crimes after her arrest, according to court documents.

Cynthia Van Holland, 47, accused of being the “Bad Hair Bandit,” remains in custody at the Placer County Jail near Sacramento, Calif., where a federal hold was recently implemented that prohibits her from leaving jail on bond.

Her appearance in U.S. District Court in Sacramento has not yet been set.

Van Holland previously was held on $500,000 bail for robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery after a Placer County sheriff's deputy arrested her and her 26-year-old husband, ex-con Christopher Alonzo, on Aug. 15 after a robbery at Bank of the West in Auburn, Calif.

The Bad Hair Bandit had been on the FBI's most wanted list since May.

Van Holland has not yet been indicted by a grand jury but is charged via complaint with three counts of robbery for heists in California.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court in Sacramento, Van Holland confessed to the 20-robbery, four-state spree and described each incident - including a May 9 robbery in Spokane - in an interview with an FBI agent at the Placer County Jail the day of her arrest.

She also confessed to robberies June 28 at banks in Sacramento and Davis. 

“Van Holland also indicated certain items of clothing she kept and other items that she threw away after some of the robberies,” according to the affidavit.

Police found clothes and accessories in Van Holland's car that were consistent with the clothing worn during the robberies. They also found two wigs in the car, along with a receipt indicating they were purchased at a store in Oregon on July 1. One of the robberies occurred in Lake Oswego, Ore., that day. Van Holland also reportedly had a cat and litter box in the vehicle.

The affidavit does not say if Van Holland said what motivated the crimes. The spree began in Tacoma in December, but the FBI believes Van Holland also may have robbed two banks in Spokane in June and August 2010.

Van Holland worked as a contract nurse in jails and prisons and met Alonzo, a convicted felon from North Idaho, when he was an inmate. She was working at the Kootenai County Jail until about a week before her arrest and also worked as a school nurse in Western Washington during the robbery spree.

Van Holland's cousin, Marlene Kootstra, of Bakersfield, Calif., said family has visited Van Holland in jail but she won't discuss the criminal charges against her because it's an ongoing case.

Alonzo also remains in the Placer County Jail. The Idaho Department of Corrections has a no-bail hold because he was on probation when he was arrested.

Bad Hair Bandit suspect was school nurse

Get Adobe Flash player

A former prison nurse suspected of robbing at least 20 banks in four states also worked as a school nurse in Western Washington during the crime spree.

Suspected “Bad Hair Bandit” Cynthia Lynn Van Holland's bail was increased to $500,000 when she appeared in court in Placer County on Thursday, where she's been custody since her arrest Monday on suspicion of bank robbery. 

The New York Times reports that Van Holland, 47, had a cat and litter box in her Chrysler Sebring when she and her husband, 26-year-old felon Christopher S. Alonzo, were stopped on a freeway outside Auburn, Calif., northeast of Sacramento.

Van Holland worked as a nurse for the Bethel School District in Spanaway, Wash., from September 2010 to March of this year, during which she allegedly robbed 10 banks in Western Washington.

She moved from school to school and as a contracted LPN with Soliant Health, said Krista Carlson, spokeswoman for the Bethel School District. The nurses typically help students with preexisting medical conditions, Carlson said.

Soliant conducted a background check, and “we also did several reference checks on her and found no flags and no priors,” Carlson said.

Van Holland is a longtime license practical nurse in Idaho who met Alonzo while working in the state prison system.

She worked part-time at the Kootenai County Jail from April until just last week. The FBI believes she robbed at least eight banks during that time, including one in Spokane on May 9.

The 20-robbery spree began in Tacoma in December, but investigators suspect Van Holland may be the same wigged woman who robbed two banks in Spokane last summer.

Bad Hair Bandit suspect worked at jail

Get Adobe Flash player

A series of bank robberies involving a woman wearing a variety of unattractive wigs may be the work of a nurse employed at the Kootenai County Jail until just last week.

 The FBI announced Wednesday that Cynthia Lynn Van Holland, 47, is believed to be the serial robber nicknamed the Bad Hair Bandit, who’s been on the FBI’s most-wanted list since June and is suspected in at least 20 robberies in three states.

Van Holland, of Hayden, Idaho, was arrested Monday after a bank robbery northeast of Sacramento. Her husband, 26-year-old Christopher S. Alonzo, also was taken into custody. The two remain in the Placer County Jail in Auburn, Calif.

 A family member said Van Holland met Alonzo while working as a nurse at a prison in Southern Idaho.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

May 12: Was the Bad Hair Bandit here last year?

Robberies attributed to the Bad Hair Bandit, not including the two in Spokane last year:

  • US Bank, Tacoma, WA—12/22/2010 
  • Key Bank, Tumwater, WA—01/05/2011 
  • Key Bank, Tacoma, WA—01/12/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, Spanaway, WA—01/14/2011 
  • Heritage Bank, Tacoma, WA—01/21/2011 
  • Cathay Bank, Kent, WA—01/26/2011 
  • First Security Bank, Redmond, WA—01/27/2011 
  • US Bank, Auburn, WA—02/10/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, WA—02/19/2011 
  • Sound Community Bank, Tacoma, WA—03/25/2011 
  • Wells Fargo Bank, University Place, WA—04/09/2011 
  • Cathay Bank, Bellevue, WA—04/21/2011 
  • Wheatland Bank, Ellensburg, WA—04/26/2011 
  • Key Bank, Moses Lake, WA—04/27/2011 
  • Chase Bank, Spokane, WA—05/09/2011 
  • Sterling Bank, Moses Lake, WA—06/07/2011 
  • Key Bank, Lake Oswego, OR—07/01/2011 
  • Yakima Federal, Richland, WA—07/18/2011 
  • Bank of Butte, Butte, MT—08/11/2011 
  • Bank of the West, Auburn, CA—08/15/2011

Bad Hair Bandit is suspect in Butte hold up

Get Adobe Flash player

BUTTE (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether a Montana bank robbery is related to at least 18 bank robberies in Washington and Oregon attributed to “the Bad Hair Bandit.”

A woman wearing a short, dark-haired wig robbed the Bank of Butte Thursday, getting away with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber implied she had a gun.

Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff John Walsh tells The Montana Standard the FBI is looking into whether the bad hair bandit is involved. An FBI spokeswoman wouldn’t comment.

The FBI’s website says the Bad Hair Bandit robs banks by passing a note to the teller and claiming that she has a gun. She wears a variety of unattractive wigs during the robberies.

The FBI believes the same woman may have also robbed two Banner Bank locations in Spokane last summer.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the bandit’s conviction.

FBI: ‘Bad Hair Bandit’ now in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The FBI says the so-called “Bad Hair Bandit,” sought in connection with as many as 18 bank robberies or attempted robberies in Washington, is now suspected in a robbery in the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego. 

Portland FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele says the woman approached a teller Friday afternoon in a Key Bank branch, indicated she had a weapon and demanded money. She walked out with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Steele says the woman wore a distinctive short dark wig and fits the description of other heists by the “Bad Hair Bandit,” who is pictured during a Feb. 10 robbery in Auburn, Wash.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to conviction of the robber.

The FBI believes the same woman may have robbed two banks in Spokane last summer in Spokane last summer.

She's also believed to have robbed a north Spokane bank in May after robbing banks in Ellensburg and Moses Lake in April.

Bad Hair Bandit on FBI’s wanted list

Get Adobe Flash player

SEATTLE — A Washington bank robber known for wearing a variety of unattractive wigs is featured in a new wanted poster on the FBI website.  

The “Bad Hair Bandit” is the first bank robber from the FBI's Seattle division to appear on the national website in many years, FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich said.

The FBI is hoping to get some help from the public in capturing the woman who has committed or attempted at least 16 bank robberies in the Puget Sound area, Ellensburg and Spokane since December 2010.

She is believed to have robbed a bank in Moses Lake earlier this month and may have robbed two banks in Spokane last summer before the spree began in western Washington.

The website features a gallery of 18 surveillance photos of the “Bad Hair Bandit” in various wigs. Many are featured above.

A reward totaling $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of and charges against the bank robber.

Bad Hair Bandit robs Moses Lake bank

Get Adobe Flash player

A serial bank robber dubbed “the Bad Hair Bandit” is believed to have robbed a bank in Moses Lake on Tuesday.

 A wigged woman matching the description of the robber thought to be responsible for 14 bank robberies since December entered Sterling Savings Bank and demanded money but did not display a weapon, according to the Associated Press.  A picture from a February robbery is at left.

The method matches that of the Bad Hair Bandit, who police believed robbed Chase Bank on Francis Avenue in Spokane last month after robbing banks in Ellensburg and Moses Lake in late April.

The FBI believes the same woman may have also robbed two Banner Bank locations in Spokane last summer.

Enjoy a slide show of photos from the 14-bank robbery spree above.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to her capture. Anyone with information should call at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don't have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Was the Bad Hair Bandit here last year?

Get Adobe Flash player

A serial bank robber dubbed “the Bad Hair Bandit” may have robbed two north Spokane banks last year.

The FBI is investigating whether a woman believed to be responsible for 14 robberies since last December also struck two Banner Bank locations in Spokane last summer.

On June 30, a heavyset woman robbed Banner Bank at 933 E. Mission Ave. wearing a red wig and sunglasses. Police say the same woman wore a black wig while robbing Banner Bank at 3919 N. Market on Aug. 2.  

Nearly five months later, a wigged woman started robbing banks in Western Washington and continued through April.

The FBI believes the same woman robbed banks April 26 and April 27 in Ellensburg and Moses Lake, then Chase Bank on Francis Avenue in Spokane Monday.

Investigators say the Bad Hair Bandit may be staying at cheap motels in the Spokane area. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to her capture. Anyone with information should call at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don't have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Surveillance photos from those robberies are pictured left and right. Enjoy a slideshow of photos from the 14-bank robbery spree above.

Here's a list of the robberies tied to the Bad Hair Bandit since December:

  • Dec. 22, 10:15 a.m., U.S. Bank, 870 S. 38th St., Tacoma
  • Jan. 5, 11:05 a.m., Key Bank, 5400 Capitol Blvd, Tumwater
  • Jan. 12, 10:30 a.m., Key Bank, 3501 S. 19th St., Tacoma
  • Jan. 14, 3:30 p.m., Wells Fargo, 15004 Pacific Ave., Spanaway
  • Jan. 21, 4:20 p.m., Heritage Bank, 8002 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
  • Jan. 26, 2:59 p.m., Cathay Bank, 18030 E. Valley Highway, Kent
  • Jan. 27, 1:36 p.m., First Security, 14808 N.E. 24th St., Redmond
  • Feb. 10, 5:24 p.m., U.S. Bank, 401 SE 15th St., Auburn
  • Feb. 19, 11:45 a.m., Wells Fargo, 2615 W. Bridgeport Way, University Place
  • March 25, 5:43 p.m., Sound Community, 2941 S. 38th St., Tacoma
  • April 9, 12:49 p.m., Wells Fargo, 2615 W. Bridgeport Way, University Place
  • April 21, 2:12 p.m., Cathay Bank, 13238 N.E. 20th St., Bellevue
  • April 26, 3:25 p.m., Wheatland bank, 205 S. Main St., Ellensburg
  • April 27, 10:02 a.m., Key Bank, 314 E. 3rd Ave., Moses Lake
      

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here