- One of the strangest cases in the annals of crime - a
pizza delivery man who robbed a bank by making threats with a bomb locked
to his neck - is getting more bizarre with each new twist.
- FBI agents now say that the bomb which killed Brian Douglas
Wells, 46, in Erie, Pennsylvania, is unusual in the United States, and
that they have found a second weapon connected to the plot.
- FBI spokesman Bill Crowley said the device was of a kind
he had heard of only once, in Bogota, Colombia. It was attached to Wells
with a metal collar and lock that FBI officials did not believe was manufactured
- Mr Crowley also said that the second weapon found was
'unique', while refusing to describe it further.
- Investigators were still trying to determine whether
Wells was a willing participant in the bank robbery on Aug 28.p> The
robbery began when an anonymous caller ordered two small pizzas from Mama
Mia's, the pizza shop where he had worked for the past several years.
- Wells drove the food out in his car. The address turned
out to be a desolate, fenced hill near a television transmitter.
- An hour later, at 2.40pm, Wells appeared at a nearby
bank demanding money and claiming to have a bomb around his neck.
- He gave two handwritten notes, nine pages in all, to
a teller. One contained threats to the bank. The second was addressed to
- After the teller gave Wells an undisclosed amount, he
retreated to his car and drove off with the cash. Minutes later, Pennsylvania
state police arrested him.
- When he was surrounded and handcuffed, Wells told police
that he had a bomb strapped to him and that someone - he apparently did
not say who - had started a timer on the bomb and forced him to rob the
- Television cameras caught him sitting cross-legged in
front of a squad car, shouting to police.
- 'I'm not lying,' he wailed. 'Did you call my boss?' he
asked, adding later: 'I'm not doing this. This isn't me. I'm not doing
- While waiting for a bomb squad to arrive, the device
exploded. The shock of the blast caused lethal damage to Wells' heart,
leaving a stamp-sized impression on his chest.
- Federal agents and police detectives have canvassed dozens
of businesses in the industrial sections of this north-west Pennsylvania
factory town since then, trying to find a machine shop capable of rigging
up the collar.
- A police search of Wells' rented shack turned up no drill
bits, metal parts or other suspicious material.
- Earlier this summer, rebels in Colombia were accused
of using such a necklace bomb to try to extort money from a Venezuelan
- The man's attackers threatened to detonate it in 72 hours
unless they received the equivalent of US$187,500 (S$313,000), but Colombian
and Venezuelan secret police were able to disarm the bomb.
- A similar bomb killed two in Bogota, Colombia, in 2000.
- The suspect
- In the transient fraternity of pizza delivery men in
Erie, Pennsylvania, Brian Douglas Wells was a lifer.
- The quiet, seemingly contented man had spent years tooling
through blue-collar neighbourhoods with the back seat of his car piled
high with pizza boxes. He had worked at several shops, unfurrowed by ambition
- 'Brian was happy with what he had,' said former co-worker
Jim Sadowski. 'This is something he could never have dreamed up.'
- Neighbour Barry Porsh said: 'A guy who lived like that
couldn't hurt a flea.'
- The bomb
- Pennsylvania police described it as a crude device similar
to a pipe bomb. It hung over Wells' chest from a plate-metal collar that
was fastened around his neck with four locks.
- Investigators said the collar looked custom-made.
- The uniqueness of the devices suggests that those associated
with them were 'pretty skilled', one told CNN.
- The weapon
- FBI agent Kenneth McCabe told ABC TV that the second
weapon found in connection with the bank robbery was 'a sort of a gun'.
- Other authorities described it as 'unusual', saying it
appeared to have been homemade or custom-made in a machine shop.
- One official said it was shaped like a walking cane.
- Investigators declined to say whether the gun-like weapon
was concealed on Wells' body or was inside his car at the time of his arrest.
- - Compiled from AP, New York Times and Los Angeles Times
- Copyright @ 2003 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights