FBI Releases Pictures of Device Around Bank Robber's Neck
September 3, 2003 -- The FBI on Tuesday released photos of a steel collar used to secure a bomb to the neck of a pizza deliveryman killed
last week after robbing a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. FBI Special Agent Bob Rudge said the bomb's locking device was unique,
sophisticated and has "significant lead value" to investigators.
Additionally, a law enforcement source told CNN that
the FBI Tuesday evening returned to search a remote area around a television transmitter site for possible clues in the case.
Agents also scoured the tower location Friday.
The deliveryman, Brian Douglas Wells, had gone to the remote area to
deliver a pizza, according to his boss, and showed up at the bank an hour later with the bomb attached to him. Investigators
have been unable to determine any commercial use for the mechanism, Rudge said.
Law enforcement sources told CNN the
device was a pipe bomb. The FBI said it had released the pictures of the collar hoping that someone will remember seeing it
somewhere before the robbery.
"We feel this device was made uniquely for the incident at hand," he said. "We are hopeful
that by showing a picture of the device, someone may recognize the instrument, the metal, the locking material used to secure
it to the neck and, certainly, call us with that information so that we can further examine the details of its construction."
also said they had found no direct connection between the death of Wells and the later death of a friend and co-worker.
46, was killed Thursday afternoon when a bomb attached to the collar exploded after a bank robbery. Wells had told police
he had been forced to rob the bank. After the robbery, Pennsylvania State Police stopped Wells, handcuffed him and sat him
down on the ground, safely away from others. Police then called a bomb squad, but the device exploded before bomb technicians
arrived, killing Wells.
A task force of federal, state and local investigators is looking into whether Wells was a
hostage or willing participant, said Cpl. Mark Zaleski, a Pennsylvania State Police spokesman.
The collar around Wells'
neck included a series of locks near his throat and was "obviously designed by the individual who intended to affix it," Rudge
Police handcuffed and isolated Brian Douglas Wells, who had said he was forced to rob a bank. Wells carried a
note for bank employees during the robbery and another one that included instructions for him. Both notes are being examined
for any fingerprints, handwriting, hair or fiber evidence they may yield, Rudge said.
Though previous bank robbers
in the area have told tellers they had a bomb, "This is the first time that a device has actually exploded," Rudge said.
addition, Zaleski said investigators have found no connection between Wells' death and the death Sunday morning of a co-worker,
Erie County District Attorney Bradley Foulk said an autopsy found no sign of disease or injury, but
preliminary drug tests indicated the presence of methadone and depressants similar to Valium in Pinetti's system. Taken together,
those drugs "could lead to respiratory depression, which could result in an accidental or intentional drug overdose," Foulk
said. "[But] we do not know that this is positively the case at this time." Final test results could take more than a week,
Authorities received a call requesting medical
assistance be sent to Pinetti's home early Sunday. Pinetti
refused treatment, and his parents found him dead about 9 a.m. Investigators looking into the bank robbery also assisted in
the probe of Pinetti's death.
"At this time, no connection has been made linking Mr. Pinetti with the bank robbery
that occurred on Thursday," Zaleski said. "Investigators are continuing to explore any link between the two individuals."
Fox News Article and Photo Essay
Second Man Dies: Bank Robber's Friend Found Dead In HomeSeptember 1, 2003 ERIE, PA -- The investigation of a Pennsylvania pizza delivery man who robbed a bank and then exploded from
a bomb took a turn Sunday when a 43-year-old co-worker of Wells at the Mama Mia's Pizzeria died after seeking medical assistance
earlier in the day.
"There was nothing overtly obvious as to the cause of his death," state police said, "but because
there's a relationship between the two individuals, we are over there."
Pinetti, 43, died Sunday morning in his 2525
Dobbins RD home. What otherwise would have been a quiet death investigation instead brought his well-manicured Lawrence Park
neighborhood to a standstill as local, state and federal investigators poured onto the scene, all trying to learn if Pinetti's
death was related to his co-worker Brian Wells'.
A task force of dozens of investigators from state and local police,
the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are sorting out the yet unanswered question of whether
Wells was a robber or murder victim. Pinetti's death Sunday took that investigation down an unexpected road.
police evacuated residents from the houses surrounding Pinetti's home Sunday afternoon and brought in the Erie Bureau of Police
bomb squad to search Pinetti's home after officers investigating his death learned he was Wells' friend and a fellow delivery
driver for Mama Mia's Pizza-Ria.
"Due to the working relationship and possible
friendship, we decided to hold the
scene for processing until we had Erie Police Bomb Squad go through two vehicles at the residence and the residence itself,"
state police Cpl. Mark Zaleski said.
"All of this was done as a result of the coincidence that these two worked in
the same location and were also friends," he said. Zaleski declined to comment on if anything was found in the home that might
link Pinetti to the robbery or Wells' death.
"There are too many unanswered questions," he said. "These things take
time to sort out."
Wells left Mama Mia's, 5154 Peach ST, Thursday to deliver two sausage-and-pepperoni pizzas to a
Peach Street address that proved to be a remote radio tower.
Authorities said he then used the threat of a bomb to
rob the PNC Bank in Summit Town Centre. When police surrounded him and handcuffed him minutes later in the parking lot of
Eyeglass World, 7200 Peach ST, the bomb, which was hung around his neck and hidden under his shirt, exploded, and he died.
the minutes before he died, the 46-year-old man told police he was forced to wear the bomb and rob the bank and asked them
for help. Authorities summoned the bomb squad, but the bomb exploded before they arrived.
An autopsy completed Saturday
night showed Wells died of injuries from the blast of the device, Chief Deputy Coroner Korac Timon said Sunday. The FBI has
said Wells' death is being investigated as a homicide.
Pinetti had refused medical treatment for an
medical problem around 5 a.m. that day. Pinetti's parents discovered Pinetti unresponsive at about 9 AM Sunday, Zaleski
said. Pinetti was declared dead at 9:47 AM by the Erie County Coroner's office.
Zaleski declined to comment on
what medical condition brought paramedics to Pinetti's home at 5 a.m. He said there was nothing "overtly obvious" as to the
cause of Pinetti's death.
Timon said an autopsy would be performed today at 9 AM and would include toxicology
tests. He said no preliminary cause of death had been identified.
He said a deputy coroner responded to the scene Sunday
after being notified of a home death. When the deputy coroner heard from family members that Pinetti had been friends with
Wells, he immediately called Timon, who notified Erie County District Attorney Brad Foulk and the Pennsylvania State Police.
That set the stage for an intensive, all-day search.
Zaleski said investigators also were contacting members of the
multiagency task force investigating the bank robbery and explosion to see if Pinetti was scheduled to be interviewed or had
been interviewed in connection with the robbery.
Zaleski said investigators continue to work around the clock on the
robbery investigation. An autopsy was completed Monday for Pinetti, but police were still waiting for toxicology tests to
determine whether deaths were related. Federal investigators and police were expected to discuss the case at a news conference
Remnants of the bomb that killed Wells were flown out of Erie Saturday to the FBI lab in Quantico, VA, The
FBI also is analyzing the handwritten note found on Wells.
The scene on Dobbins Road drew neighbors' curiosity and
concern. At 7:30 PM - nearly 10 hours after Pinetti had been discovered - there were still 10 marked and unmarked police
cars parked along the road or in the grass of a playground. Two neighbors watched the proceedings through binoculars. Other
curious neighbors walked through the nearby park, and children loitered on bicycles. None of the neighbors said they knew
Pinetti or his family.
Mama Mia's Pizza-Ria owner Tony Ditomo would not answer questions about the deaths of two of
his employees within three days of each other.
But despite the mysteries surrounding Wells' and Pinetti's deaths, Ditomo's
business was open Saturday. Two men were eating at one of the tables in the store shortly before 5 PM The phone was silent.
been very tough," Ditomo said. "We just try to work and stay busy." He declined to comment on the situation further, saying
only that he knew nothing of what had happened to his employees.
Down the street at Papa John's, 3546 W 12th ST, head
driver Rob Pansky said he knew Wells when the two worked together at the Pizza Outlet several years ago. He said hearing the
mysterious circumstances surrounding his former co-worker's death made him nervous.
Papa John's Manager Catalin Ghisoiu
said when someone who ordered a pizza earlier in the day gave a bogus telephone number, the store canceled the order rather
than take the pizza to the address given by the caller.
Edited and excerpted from articles by Lisa Thompson and Kara Rhodes in the Erie Times-News, NEPA News, and UPI
- FBI Releases Pictures of Device Around Bank Robber's
- Erie, Pennsylvania, Murder-Bombing Mystery: Information Sought
- Pennsylvania Delivery Man Killed by Strap-On Bomb
- Second Man Dies: Bank Robber's Friend Found Dead In
- Police Detonate Pizza-Bomber (Sick Humor)
- Criminal Minds Crime and Court News Links
Erie, Pennsylvania, Murder-Bombing Mystery: Information Sought
On August 28, On August 28, pizza delivery man Brian
Douglas Wells was allegedly locked into a bombing device by unknown person(s) and ordered to rob a bank branch just outside
the city of Erie. When he was detained by the Pennsylvania State Police following the robbery, the bomb exploded, killing
him instantly. Following a preliminary investigation of the case by a multi-agency law enforcement task force, many questions
Specifically, information is sought about any aspect of the triple-banded
metal collar that was locked around Wells' neck and about the lock that kept it in place. On behalf of the task force, the
FBI requests the public to carefully scrutinize the pictured photographs of these objects. By clicking on the photos, they
can be enlarged to see fine details. If you have any information at all about the devices, please immediately call the FBI's
toll-free number 1-866-219-2008.
On 9/11/03, a new drawing was released in the Erie Bank Robbery/Bombing
case. The drawing was made from the description of a man seen emerging from a wooded area directly behind the Country Fair
gas station and convenience mart located on Peach Street in Erie, Pennsylvania. Accordingly, this man is of interest for questioning.
He is a white male, approximately six feet tall, dark brown medium length hair, wearing a Pittsburgh Steeler's jersey, denim
shorts, and high top sneakers.
This drawing joins drawings of two other men, a site map, and photographs of a collar bomb and lock that were released earlier. Of the earlier drawings, one man (pictured) was located and questioned;
no further information is needed. The other man--a white male with scraggly hair--is still wanted for questioning. He was
seen on Interchange Road, near the Red Lobster restaurant, running through traffic and touching several vehicles along the
way. He is described as being about 5'8" with white-blond hair, in his early 20s, and wearing dark cargo shorts, an untucked
white t-shirt, white sneakers, and a baseball cap.
On behalf of the multi-angncy task force investigating the case, the
FBI requests the public to carefully scrutinize the items pictured. If you have any information at all about the items, about
the identities of the men pictured, or about the locations shown on the map, please immediately call the FBI's toll-free number 1-866-219-2008.
Officials Probe Bizarre Bank Robbery
August 31, 2003 ERIE, PA -- A pizza delivery
man told police he had been forced to rob a bank and asked authorities to help him minutes before a bomb strapped to his chest
exploded and killed him.
On Saturday, federal agents and police in northwestern Pennsylvania were trying to solve the
bizarre case of 46-year-old Brian Douglas Wells, who left to deliver a pizza to a mysterious address in a remote area about
an hour before he turned up at the bank with a bomb strapped to his body.
No one else was hurt in Thursday's explosion,
which happened in front of law enforcement officers as they waited for a bomb squad to arrive. WJET-TV of Erie captured audio
and video from Wells as he sat handcuffed in front of a state police cruiser.
"Why is nobody trying to come get this
thing off me?" he asked.
A state police spokesman confirmed Friday night that Wells had made a number of statements,
including that he had been forced to rob the bank. The tape shows Wells telling authorities someone had started a timer on
his bomb under his T-shirt, and that there was little time left.
"It's going to go off," Wells said. "I'm not lying."
Chief Deputy Coroner Korac Timon said Saturday the bomb appeared to have hung from Wells' neck, and that he had been told
it was of a "very sophisticated construction."
FBI Special Agent Bob Rudge called the case unusual, noting that while
bank robbers sometimes claim to have a bomb, few actually do.
While no one has been arrested or identified as a suspect,
Rudge said the investigation was "going extremely well." Wells' death was being investigated as a homicide and investigators
were looking into Wells' background.
Linda Payne, who owns the property where Wells lived, described him as a private,
trustworthy person who liked music and cared for three cats. He was a friend of Payne's husband, who also had been a pizza
delivery man, she said.
"I couldn't believe that he would rob a bank. He doesn't care that much about money," Payne
said. "I think somebody lured him into that place delivering a pizza, dropped a bomb on him and sent him into the bank ...
He would not have decided to do that on his own."
Wells' boss and one of the owners of Mama Mia's
Erie, who asked that his name not be published, said Saturday he took a call Thursday for a pizza delivery but didn't recognize
the address given. He put Wells on the phone to get directions. Wells left to make the delivery and never returned, the pizzeria
owner said. The address of the delivery was a rural spot along a main drag that runs south of the city, where a gravel road
leads to a television transmission tower.
According to police, Wells entered the PNC Bank branch outside Erie on Thursday
afternoon and producing an "extensive note" demanding money and saying he had a bomb. Rudge would not provide any details
about the note.
Wells left with an undisclosed amount of money and got into his car. Police surrounded him a short
time later in a nearby parking lot, pulled him out of his car and handcuffed him, authorities said. The bomb exploded about
40 minutes after he entered the bank.
Authorities obtained a search warrant and took evidence from Wells' home, but
a state police spokesman refused to say what was taken. The evidence arrived at FBI laboratories in Washington, DC, but Rudge
could not say how long testing would take.
State police forensics teams also searched near the spot of Wells' last
pizza delivery. It was not know what, if anything, they found.
Edited and excerpted from the full article by Judy Lin for the Associated Press, at Yahoo
Police Detonate Pizza-BomberEERIE, PA - Brian Wells, the dreaded Pennsylvania Pizza-bomber, was blown to pieces Thursday when a bomb attached to his neck detonated
as police and FBI agents urged him to "sit down and relax, and we'll be right back."
Wells, 46, had delivered a pizza
and subsequently robbed a bank before exploding in front of dozens of bystanders. After he was pulled over by Pennsylvania
State Police in connection with the robbery, Wells advised them that he had a bomb strapped to his neck, and it was about
to explode. The police immediately handcuffed Wells and told him to sit in the road, then bolted away in horror.
he sat on the ground, Wells said, "Hey! Can I get a bomb squad over here? How about something to drink? Uh, hello? I'm kind
of in a hurry."
"Yes, sir! That's one bomb squad and a drink. Be there in about 15 - 20 minutes, or the Pepsi's free."
was blown to smithereens a few minutes later. The police reported that the bomb squad arrived in fifteen minutes, saving the
cost of a free beverage.
An FBI investigation has confirmed the state police acted properly. "Our analysis shows that
Wells had a long history of pizza deliveries," said FBI spokesperson Ken McCabe. "He's also been in banks numerous times.
Pizzas, banks and bombs just don't mix."
The FBI also said the police could have done little more to help Wells. "You
ever see what happens to Wiley Coyote when he tries to blow up the Road Runner?" said McCabe. "He gets a bunch of dynamite,
wires it up, then KABOOM!!!! - He blows himself up. Road Runner escapes unharmed 'cause he ran like hell. Same basic idea."
-- Bongo News
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