Sister of Dead Bank Robber Urges Killers To Surrender
ERIE, Pa. (AP) -- The sister of a pizza deliveryman who died when a bomb locked to his neck exploded minutes after he robbed a bank has written a letter pleading with the people she believes are responsible for his death to turn themselves in.
"I am saddened that those responsible haven't come forward to confess their evil. I pray and fast for those involved to be brought to conversion, to unburden themselves ... to be caught and brought to justice," Jean Heid wrote in a letter to the Erie Times-News.
Heid's brother, 46-year-old Brian Wells, died Aug. 28 when a bomb hung from a collar around his neck exploded as he sat handcuffed, minutes after he robbed a PNC Bank branch in Summit Township, south of Erie. While surrounded by police, Wells told officers a man had locked the bomb to his neck, started its timer and forced him to rob the bank.
A rambling note warning to "cooperate and you will survive" and a cane-shaped gun were found in his car.
Last week, nearly six months after Wells died, his death was ruled a homicide. But law enforcement officials haven't ruled out that he may have been a willing participant in the crime, rather than a pawn.
Heid and other relatives, however, doubt the soft-spoken Wells would have volunteered for the crime.
"I don't know who killed Brian so mercilessly and callously but I do know that they meant to kill him and they are still present among us," Heid wrote. "The grief and heartache they have caused is enormous."
Ted and John Wells, Brian's brothers, have said they believe their brother had no knowledge of the scheme, let alone knew his captors.
They believe a group of men chased his brother through the woods, fired a shot at him and clamped the device around his neck when he made his last delivery of the day -- two pizzas to a television transmission tower.
"When you have a gun fired at you and you're unarmed, what are you supposed to do?" Ted Wells told the newspaper in a story published Wednesday.
Investigators said they have made progress in the six months since the bizarre case topped national headlines and a federal and state task force of 50 toiled around the clock chasing leads. But no arrest has been made, and no suspect publicly identified.
The FBI has released portions of the nine-page set of instructions and photographs of the bomb collar and the cane-shaped firearm found in Wells' car.
The agency has also released sketches of people seen in the area, made random traffic stops and set up a tip line that has yielded nearly a thousand calls. A $50,000 reward for solving the case remains unclaimed.