ST. LOUIS — A jobless Washington state restaurant worker claiming more than $600,000 in hospital bills robbed at least six banks in four states before being captured after an Illinois holdup netted him $3,300, according to federal investigators.
Carl Frederick Kieffer’s reported string of heists since late August came to an end Tuesday when authorities tracked down the 49-year-old man from Spokane, Wash., near a southwestern Illinois cornfield some two hours after he allegedly robbed a bank in O’Fallon, just east of St. Louis.
During a brief federal court appearance Wednesday in East St. Louis, Ill., Kieffer waived bond and preliminary hearings on a felony robbery charge linked to Tuesday’s holdup and was assigned a public defender.
FBI Special Agent Daniel Cook, in an affidavit filed Wednesday, said Kieffer admitted robbing banks in Illinois, Wyoming, Ohio and Michigan before strolling Tuesday into the O’Fallon bank and scrawling on a bank slip that he had a gun. He then approached a teller.
Cook said the tall, gangly man with thinning brown hair handed the teller a manila envelope, gestured as if he had a gun and demanded currency in denominations of $100, $50 and $20 bills. He refused a stack of $1 bills the bank worker tried to give him.
The suspect then fled with $3,300 in a blue-green Pontiac Grand Prix with a temporary license plate, Cook wrote. Police spotted the car a short time later and tried to pull it over, but the suspect sped away.
The car later was found abandoned in a cornfield, about a quarter mile from where the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Kieffer was arrested after a manhunt involving dozens of law enforcers and an Illinois State Police airplane. A “wad” of cash was found in his pocket, Cook wrote.
Kieffer later waived his right to be represented by an attorney and gave a statement to Cook, telling the FBI agent he had robbed six banks elsewhere. Court documents show he’s a suspect in other robberies in Novi and Charlotte, Mich.; Tipp City and Bolivar, Ohio; Lusk, Wyo.; and Farmersville, Ill.
“The FBI has been very nice to me,” the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat quoted Kieffer as telling the magistrate judge during Wednesday’s court appearance.
In a financial affidavit filed with the court, Kieffer wrote that he last worked in August for a Jack in the Box restaurant in Spokane, where he earned $900 a month. Kieffer said his debts included $480,000 to one hospital and $120,000 to another, though he did not specify his health issues.