Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, who is recently deceased, thought she had constructed the perfect plot to commit a bank robbery back in 2003.
There are as many ways to commit a heinous crime as there are twisted minds to come up with them. Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, who is recently deceased, thought she had constructed the perfect plot to commit a bank robbery back in 2003. She would simply attach an explosive device to the neck of a pizza delivery guy who would initially enter the structure unnoticed. Upon discovering the horrifying sight the bank teller would quickly hand over the funds. Simple as that.
46-year-old co-conspirator Brian Wells, dressed in his costume, walked into a PNC bank in August 2003, and acquired $8,702 as planned. However, he would never make it out. Diehl-Armstrong’s plot backfired when the bomb, strapped to Wells’ neck, exploded following the stunt, ending his life.
Prosecutors contended that Wells initially went along with the plan, because he believed the bomb was fake. However, on the day of the crime, Diehl-Armstrong and two other men involved ordered pizzas that lured Wells to a dead end road where he was forced to wear a real device. From there, he was given handwritten instructions about how to rob the bank and disarm the bomb.
In trying the case, prosecutors would reveal they believed the crime had been plotted by five people in total. Two of the others involved were William Rothstein and Kenneth Barnes. Rothstein was a handyman and a substitute science teacher who prosecutors say was responsible for constructing the bomb collar using two egg timers supplied by Diehl-Armstrong. He passed from cancer prior to being tried for the crime. Kenneth Barnes, 57, pleaded guilty and is serving 45 years in prison. He testified in court that Diehl-Armstrong planned the whole gig because she wanted to use the $250,000 in loot she had assumed they would acquire to pay Barnes to kill her father in a dispute over her future inheritance.
Diehl-Armstrong’s defense attorney argued unsuccessfully that his deceased client’s history of mental illness and a toxic relationship with one of the individuals involved made it more likely that she was framed rather than involved directly. She had already been serving seven to 20 years after pleading guilty to killing her boyfriend James Roden, 45, also originally part of the plan. She had said she killed him because he was abusive, but U.S. Attorney Marshall Piccinini claimed instead it was because the relationship had grown toxic and Roden threatened to reveal everything.
Diehl-Armstrong was found guilty in 2010 of three crimes — armed bank robbery, conspiracy and using a destructive device in a crime of violence for bank robbery — and subsequently began to serve a life sentence plus 30 years for her role in the bank robbery plot. Her death has cut her sentence very short. An office spokeswoman said she did not know the cause of the inmate’s death, and couldn’t confirm whether it was suicide or intentionally caused by another inmate. With four of the clan now deceased, Barnes remains as the last remaining convict in the robbery to live out his sentence solo.