The FBI Files S05 E14 Death Pact full episodes

in the 1990s the disguised serial bank robber terrorizes the Chicago area expert with weapons aware of police procedure and fearless he hits hard and disappears fast police and the FBI realized the only way to stop him is to catch him in the act but his desperate violence imposed impossible [Music] [Applause] [Music] the average bank robbery yields roughly $3,000 yet some criminals risk everything for the take in suburban Chicago a disguised gunman began a series of robberies growing more violent with each one I'm Jim Kallstrom former head of the FBI's New York office tracking the robbers movements agents discovered he wasn't alone and would do anything to avoid capture March 5th 1990 Chicago Illinois without knowledge at a bank on the city's Southside employees began what they thought was a normal workday the neighborhood was quiet until 10:00 a.m. the disguised gunman threatened to kill anyone who didn't follow his orders [Music] tellers knew not to interfere [Music] it was over in seconds [Music] when they were safe they called police the chicago police patrol officers closest to the bank responded first the witnesses reported that the robber was a white male about six feet tall but they didn't see details of his features because of his disguise he wore gloves and carried a police scanner [Music] the man was aggressive handling his semi-automatic handgun with confidence he left no fingerprints and security cameras revealed no other immediate clues police canvassed the area hoping to find other witnesses a woman who lived near the bank reported that she thought she had seen the robber she said that at about the time of the robbery she saw a man who seemed to be wearing a fake beard get into a small four-door sedan she did not get the place but she did give officers a description of the car checking every similar car in the area they soon found one they believed was the robbers getaway vehicle abandoned a few blocks from the bank the officer approached with caution in case someone was still inside but it was empty except for a paper towel covering the broken ignition a records check revealed the car had been stolen from a mall parking lot four days earlier later processing produced no leads to the robber bank robbery is a federal offense so police contacted the Chicago FBI [Music] Supervisory senior resident agent Bill Keith and handled dozens of bank robbery calls at that time we were extremely busy with bank robberies we had had two on one day we were running sometimes as many as three robberies a week most were committed by amateurs who went in without a plan and were caught quickly but when the bank robbery squad reviewed the reports on the southside robbery they noted how cleanly assault was obviously well planned they believed it was not the bearded assailant first robbery and would not be his last two months later the robber with the fake beard hit a bank in the suburb of Libertyville not satisfied with cash drawers this time he ordered a teller to open the hall he said his police scanner would let him know if anyone hit the silent alarm put in there [Music] the robber escaped with thousands of dollars in cash [Music] but this time a teller got the license-plate number from his getaway car while Libertyville police looked for the car Chicago FBI agents interviewed the tellers special agent Hank Smith loaned the gunman was more aggressive this time he controlled people with the weapon he would intimidate them by putting the gun up towards their face he pointed the gun directly at someone when he talked to them which was intimidating to the tellers and the customers although interviews yielded no clues police did find the getaway car abandoned a few blocks from the bank again the vehicle had been stolen from a mall three days earlier [Music] and as before the thief used a towel to hide the broken ignition [Music] FBI Special Agent Dave children was part of the robbery squad [Music] Squad uncovered an earlier robbery in Wilmette Illinois believed to be committed by the same man one surveillance camera photo provided a frightening clue there was a very good picture of the robber taken in which he was using what we call a Weaver stance this is a shooting position taught to police officers it was taught to FBI agents and if you have been taught to shoot like that you recognize it this person might have had some law-enforcement training if so he would know how these investigations work and he could prove very difficult to catch the local press dubbed him the bearded bandit investigators took advantage of the coverage to ask citizens for help they published enhanced stills from the robberies hoping someone would recognize him despite the disguise we put his picture on the news he did wear a beard a fake beard and mustache and a ball chest so after running those pictures we were not getting any tips from the public in November 1990 the elusive bandit hit a bank in Wheeling Illinois a teller hit the alarm before he was told not to over his scanner the gunman heard the police responding he didn't believe the bank which we may be the normal reaction of bank robbers they're there to rob the bank they're not there to get involved in a shootout with the police he stayed in the bank by the peace responding and held the gun up to the cashier and counted down from 10 seven six five four three two it seemed he knew how long he had before police responded more evidence he might be a cop as the robberies continued it looked like the Bandit purposely chose targets in different jurisdictions to complicate the investigation no bank was ever hit the second time the robberies would be on the other end of the suburban area against Lake Michigan and then they would be out in Schaumburg or Elk Grove Village or up north in Lake counties such as Libertyville as he struck in new suburbs the FBI had to coordinate with a growing number of police departments Palatine Illinois Police Chief John Kozel a detective sergeant at the time learned of the case and that the bandits getaway cars belonged to shopping mall employees stolen at the beginning of their shifts he would steal one of the employee cars knowing that it would not be reported stolen for approximately eight hours so we knew he had eight hours to get the vehicle to where he needed to put it before anyone would even discover it missing and it would become hot on the system when dumping the cars the robber did his best to interfere with the ongoing investigation [Music] wiping them clean of fingerprints and leaving no trace of himself behind [Music] it was very apparent that he was aware of evidence gathering techniques of police methods in the end agents found nothing of evidentiary value in any of the cars since the cars didn't help identify the bandit investigators followed every conceivable lead that might they visited theatrical shops around the city hoping a salesperson might recognize the man with the fake beard as a customer again nothing the bearded bandit committed seven armed bank robberies in the Chicago area between January 1990 and February 1991 then the robbery stopped [Music] we went over what we had done to that point in time looked for things we might have missed maybe he'd been incarcerated somewhere maybe he'd moved out of state maybe he was dead you just didn't know the bandits trail stayed cold for nine months on November 4th 1991 Palatine Police Officer Kevin Maher was working the day shift a dispatcher in training wrote along to learn procedure [Music] when I was heading southbound on Quentin Road I saw a vehicle heading northbound and I looked in my sideview mirror and I thought what I saw was an expired tag so I made a u-turn and I was telling my ride-along that we were gonna go up and see if this vehicle had expired place and if it did I would conduct a traffic stop and show him how we conduct a traffic stop and how we punch all the numbers into the computer it was supposed to be a routine stop the person driving the vehicle swerved over to the side of the road and jammed on the brakes he's got a gun Mara's first instinct was to protect his passenger the bearded bandit was back in November 1991 a routine Chicago area traffic stop erupted in violence when a man shot Palatine Police Officer Kevin Lamar I was in a state of shock because it was broad daylight it was 11 o'clock and it was a quiet residential street and it was a basic ambush and after he fired the first round the first round came through the windshield instruct me in the shoulder and glass from the windshield struck me in the left ear the officer down call went out on the Illinois State Police emergency radio network for more than a dozen surrounding suburbs police and emergency personnel rushed to the scene Maura realized one of the shots that pierced his windshield was aimed dead center and might have hit him in the head and he not moved to protect his passenger and reverse the car while paramedics treated Mars officers questioned him as a police officer he was a perfect witness trained in recalling details he gave them a description of the gunman the cars license plates the type of gun and the direction in which the attacker escaped we got a male white 200-pound beard dad last seen going south from the scene so what spread out start looking for the car which way you want to go police fanned out to find the shooter more than 100 officers joined the search three blocks from the location of the attack police found the shooters vehicle [Music] it had been reported stolen from a mall parking lot five days earlier Palatine Police Chief John Kozol realized the grave danger when someone is willing to shoot at a police officer on a routine traffic stop we all realized that he's willing to shoot at anyone his determination to escape is much greater than his concern for the safety of anyone that would be a law enforcement officer a citizen on the street when you're willing to shoot a policeman you're willing to shoot anyone KO's will help coordinate the search for the deadly gunman we immediately set up a perimeter with the assistance of the state county and local officers in the area we had canines on the scene in a chopper in the air we notified the schools in the area to stay lockdown evidence technicians began to process the car the ignition was broken the damage covered by a paper towel [Music] they looked for fingerprints that might help them identify the perpetrator but found none k-9 handlers brought in their dogs which are trained to remember a scent from a specified place then follow only that scent ignoring others but the trail ended not far from the vehicle [Music] despite the massive effort the suspect somehow slipped away in addition to taking it personal in one of our officers a shot we all know that a citizen is much more likely to be injured or killed and we worked that much harder to bring him to justice for more resources they called in the FBI and Supervisory Special Agent bill Keefe I was asked to come over to the Palatine Police Department by the chief of police there had been a composite sketch drawn and everybody was reviewing the circumstances of the shooting for nearly two years Keef and his squad had been working the bearded bandit case I had asked if we could look at the car that was found and when I looked at the ignition this was our bank robber after being treated officer mark came to the station to look at surveillance photos of the bearded bandit he said the bank robber did look like the man who shot him we surmised that he was on his way to do a bank robbery he knew once the officer ran the plate the car would come back stolen he also knew that with the guns he had in his vehicle it's not something he could conceal if the officer walked up to the vehicle the bearded man had made a huge leap in violence this guy wasn't going to go away we're going to have to come up with a very innovative way to either identify him and charge him or that we were going to have to catch him in the end chief Cosel brought the many investigators together after the initial search we set up a multi-jurisdictional task force here at our Police Department we had the FBI the State Police Kukai sheriff's police and all the local agencies from our area and those involved in the bank robber series since their suspect seemed to know police procedure they adjusted it we learned we had a violent bank robber that was using a scanner we were no longer giving out the location of the bank over-the-air we were giving out a code number for each particular Bank the task force hope patrol officers in the area could use the cops to respond to robbery calls without the Bandit realizing it confident that the bearded bandit would resume his crime spree eventually police began doing spot checks of banks throughout the region on November 18th two weeks after the shootings Elk Grove Village Illinois Police Officers saw nothing suspicious at one bank on their list [Music] but later that morning a woman leaving a nearby business did two people in obvious disguises entering the bank two weeks after a police shooting in a Chicago area that was linked to the bearded bandit the gunman reappeared in Elk Grove Village Illinois this time with an accomplice nine-one-one can I help you while the witness outside the bank called police the robbers struck the bandit demanded money from the vault his accomplice standing guard 900 aware of the bearded bandit used a pre-arranged code to alert officers without revealing information over the police scanner they also alerted the FBI special agent Hank Smith realized the new danger the big concern is that the robber in some cases discharges the weapon when he's using it to gesture at the employees so the potential for violence is always there the numbers obviously increase if we have two people that are armed in the bank the manager explained they could not get into the time-delay vault the dispatcher instructed the witness outside to leave in case there was gunplay with the money from the cash drawers the robbers fled unaware the police had been called the teller hit the alarm Elk Grove Village officers approached with their sirens off quietly surrounding the Bank [Music] if the robbers was still inside and heard police they might take hostages officers were in even more danger according to Palatine Chief John Kozel for the first time they had two bearded individuals arrive a bank that of course increased our sense of urgency even more now we had two armed gunmen to deal with when law enforcement arrives at these banks 2600 can you call the bank find out through the dispatcher police talked with bank employees the manager said the robbers had left the officers had to be sure the robbers could be holding a gun on the manager forcing her to lie the dispatcher asked them to send one employee outside to talk to police the manager gave them the description of the woman chosen to go [Applause] 20600 head the official come out okay I see her coming on hi are you aware there was a bank around here the employee assured them the assailants were gone and no one was injured inside the officers moved in to clear the bank for certain one of the witnesses told us that she believed that the second person a smaller person was possibly a woman disguised as a man after the Elk Grove Village robbery police recovered two cars with a bandits signature ignition covering it was more evidence of his criminal sophistication to cleanse himself after leaving the bank he would drop the one off a block from the bank that he had just gotten into that all the witnesses had seen him leave the bank in and he would go few blocks away and get into the other vehicle that he had left their previous and since cleanse himself from that first hot vehicle all of the cars were similar according to Special Agent Dave children we were able to kind of key in the cars by the type that make the size the non visibility of them there were just everyday cars he was stealing them then letting them sit for several days before using them as getaway cars the taskforce asked to be notified of similar cars stolen from area shopping malls we were successful in getting information on cars of that type that were stolen in the northwest suburbs and in the city of Chicago we would put that information out on a weekly basis [Music] agents got back and from the FBI and Sergeant Steve Pearson from Chicago PD actually went to every roll call for proximately 5260 law enforcement agencies and spoke to the individual officers and the need to find these cars those personal visits mean a lot more than just putting something out on a teletype somewhere in the metro area they hope to find a getaway car after the bandits stole it but before he used it in a robbery weeks later officer tom Polinski was checking an apartment building parking lot in Niles Illinois when he spotted a stolen car on their list it did look like the bearded bandits work the agreement was if they found one of those and it did turn out to be stolen when they ran the license plate that they would back off and notify us that happened we set up a surveillance on that vehicle FBI agents and Niles police officers and detectives watched from an empty apartment overlooking the stolen car 24 hours a day on December 13th we found out if the rolling meadows police had located another stolen car there was an all probability one of the bearded bandit stars chief kozol was sure they were right these two particular vehicles were both stolen out of large mall areas both were owned by employees of those malls the mo was perfect they set up surveillance on the second car in Rolling Meadows to Wehling Meadows PD stepped up they shared time detectives intelligence set with our agents out there 24 hours a day to further ensure the bandit did not slip away the FBI wanted to install tracking devices in the vehicles but they couldn't do so in the parking lots [Music] late one night agents remove the two cars and replaced them with look-alikes for a few hours [Music] it was a risky move the thief could return at any time and spot the agents or the decoy cars at the FBI garage technicians installed the remote tracking devices in each vehicle they also equipped the cars with remote kill switches that would allow agents to shut down the engines from a distance they put the cars back and waited [Music] days passed there was a nagging doubt in in all of our minds that maybe we had been discovered that perhaps he had seen one of us or a police officer going in and out of this apartment they were using to watch the car in Niles that he had seen somebody near the car in Rolling Meadows and that he was just going to back off these cars and never come back we weren't sure we just didn't know but we we were committed to watching these cars until something told us otherwise after a week the vigil paid off a van pulled up and a man approached one of the cars this was in my mind a do-or-die effort this is this is going to be our only shot if we miss this he's got nowhere idle they hoped they could peacefully end the bandits crime spree but no one had forgotten the last time the gunman was cornered the man had been dropped off at the vehicle by someone driving a van [Music] heading southbound on the LE when he drove away the van followed investigators could not identify either driver they had to be careful if the bearded bandit and his accomplice spotted a tail they might start shooting but FBI technicians had installed a tracking device in the car allowing agents to follow at a distance the suspect parked the stolen car near a suburban Bank carrying the news Supervisory Special Agent bill Keefe believed they finally found their target when that vehicle showed up in the vicinity of a bank our adrenaline really was pumped up and we really knew that we were gonna have it this car was likely the first getaway car for the next day's robbery agents believe the two suspects would next pick up the second stolen car in rolling meadows they were right that vehicle was also equipped with a tracking device [Music] red cars going up behind it at heart surveillance agents followed that car believed to be a secondary getaway car to a hardware store about 20 miles from the bank where the pair left it okay looks like he's getting back into the man I can point out you to do go ahead and follow with both suspects in the van agents no longer had the benefit of a tracking device and had to stay close they followed the van into Hanover Park Illinois and watched as it pulled up to a townhouse [Music] now Special Agent Dave Childre could identify the people inside we had a license plate and two vague descriptions of people a man and a woman nominal record checks on that license plate will tell us that that van belonged to Jeffrey and Jill Erickson the FBI and police worked through the night to learn more we had done a lot of research calling police departments trying to see all these people were we were looking for a previous arrest record which we didn't find during this process we had received some information that Jeffrey Erickson had been a police officer in 1986 Jeffrey Erickson worked as a patrol officer in a Chicago suburb he distinguished himself as a skilled marksman but it was uninterested in the everyday requirements of the job traffic stops paperwork he was about to be fired when he resigned [Music] records also showed that Jeffrey Erickson opened a used bookstore in early 1991 during the time the bearded bandit was on hiatus it appeared he and his wife jhyll a university chemistry student led a double life using bank robbery money to build a middle class existence he might not have seemed threatening on the surface but special agent Schmidt knew he was because he's a trained individual he knows how we're going to react he can plan ahead for that and if he's trained with the weapon he's going to be more professional in the way he handles that weapon and he's going to be a bigger threat to us investigators considered waiting until the Erickson's approached a bank the next day but decided not to risk a shootout near employees and customers we had enough that we did not have to get him in the vicinity of a bank the safest approach would be when he came to the car the stolen car we would arrest him while surveillance units watched the suspects home a SWAT team set up near the car of the hardware store parking lot police chief john Cosel the SWAT team set up on the the vehicles were very well aware of his background and knew that he may shoot first and they were taking that into account by the morning they were ready for the Erickson's to make their move about mid-morning the surveillance units advised us that the van was in fact moving from the residence with at least two people they were heading in the direction where we were watching the stolen car the surveillance team advised us that mr. Ericson had got out of the vehicle in an adjoining parking lot the drivers of the bandstand he's walking war the FBI had installed a kill switch in the stolen car which they could use to turn off the engine from a distance we watched him come around the corner from that other parking lot to go to the vehicle and enter the vehicle and start that vehicle [Music] Erikson was distracted by the car trouble okay let's go in the SWAT team moved in out of the car put your hands where I can see just back out of that bag out of the car pressure to shoot or not shoot is this what second decision most law enforcement officers don't want to have to shoot an individual if they don't have to no one wants to take a life that way we felt like we controlled him after twice reaching for his bag Erikson finally followed orders he come out of the bag with a gun it would have been an entirely different situation I asked him was we were transporting him after the arrest to the federal lockup you being a former police officer you would know that a gesture like that could get you shot and he looked at me and he said well I figured you'd shoot me in the head and it would be over with quickly in the car agents searched Erickson's bag and found the bearded bandits tools loaded guns a police scanner gloves a beard and a wig his bank robbery kit in that bag it was very helpful to the case without that information or that evidence we just arrested a car thief having Jeffrey Erickson safely in custody was only half the job in the adjoining parking lot the SWAT team approached the van it might be Jill Erickson inside [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] agents scrambled to follow the chaise barreled through 11 suburban jurisdictions reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour a roadblock didn't work [Applause] and she had fired multiple rounds out of that band either at the pursuing agent or other people in traffic it was a big concern for the agents that she might hit an innocent civilian agents shot out the rear tires of the van the plane van turned into an area that investigators knew had no outlet they block the road as the van charged them they had to fire they saw movement inside an FBI agent cautiously approached [Music] the driver was wounded a single self-inflicted gunshot [Music] it was Jill Erickson later that night in the hospital she died special agent Hank Schmitt we believed it may have been a pact that they had both come up with that they would not be arrested she that day carried out her part of the pact and that day he decided for whatever reason he didn't inside the van were spent cartridge casings blood fibers other ammunition other weapons there was a rifle with several hundred rounds of ammunition that whole neighbourhood became an evidentiary nightmare there were bullets that Jill had fired stuck in the side of houses and cars on the street the FBI obtained a federal search warrant for the Erickson's home [Music] we found some loose cash but what impressed me was the amount of firepower in the house and arrests at that home would have would have evolved into a shootout in that home there was a weapon everywhere that you would find a picture or a statue or a knick-knack in any other home among the weapons found was the 223 caliber semi-automatic assault rifle used in the attack on Officer Kevin Mar Chief John kozo realized his shootout would have been deadly to both sides the weapons in his home were as good as any law enforcement has as far as firepower goes most of the long guns he had those that type of ammunition would zip right through an officer's bulletproof vest another discovery in the house spoke to the couple's mindset one of the things that we found quite ironic was the television was on and the VCR was on and there was a Bonnie and Clyde tape in the VCR and it was cued up to the point where the Bonnie and Clyde are being shot to death in the movie and it was obvious that that was something they watched before they went out and did their bank robberies though one robber was dead and one in custody the violence was not yet over [Music] geoffery Erickson's trial began on July 13th 1992 the evidence compiled against him was strong in all conversations with the US Attorney's Office the trial was going very well they were very upbeat about it and the evidence was in their mind going to be enough to convict him but then after court adjourned on July 20th 1992 - deputy US Marshals loaded Erickson and several jail inmates onto an elevator [Music] Erikson was still dressed for court the prisoners were headed for a van that would take them to the Metropolitan Correctional Center [Music] by the time the elevator reached the parking garage Ericsson had somehow escaped his cuffs [Music] Erikson's shot u.s. marshal bill Frakes in the back and head killing him ambushed Frakes had not had time to draw his weapon as the gunman ran for the street court security officer and former Chicago Police detective Harry Bell womany confronted him Erickson shot the police veteran in the chest but before bail woman he died he got a four rounds fatally wounding Erickson the gunman was 40 feet from the crowded streets when he died the thing is all these resources were brought to bear on an individual he was captured and it was being tried in court you you think the case is over but unfortunately the only person that could stop this individual turned out to be a very brave courageous policeman named Harry Bell no many who while dying shot and killed Jeff Erickson a newlywed bill Frakes was a promising young lawman just nine months into his career Howie Bell woman he was a 31-year veteran [Music] two of his children are also Chicago police officers carrying on his legacy [Music] [Applause] [Music]

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