The Strange True Tale of the Pizza Delivery Man Who Robbed a Bank While Wearing a Bomb Around His Neck 

In 2003, a brazen bank heist shocked the community of Erie, Pennsylvania, killing a pizza delivery man called Brian Wells. The case swiftly became one of the most intricate and perplexing criminal investigations in recent history, leaving both law enforcement and the general public baffled as to what had occurred.

Wells, a 46-year-old pizza delivery worker, stepped into the PNC Bank on Peach Street in Erie, Pennsylvania, on August 28, 2003. He was carrying a handcrafted shotgun disguised as a cane and wore an odd collar around his neck that he said was a bomb. Wells gave a note to the teller demanding $250,000 in cash and alleged that he had been forced to rob the bank by unknown gunmen who had rigged the bomb to blow if he refused to comply.

Wells left the bank after receiving the money and was shortly caught by police. He informed them that he was forced to steal the bank by three men who grabbed him while delivering pizza. He said the men had tied the device around his neck and given him specific instructions on how to carry out the crime.

Law enforcement personnel were suspicious of Wells’ tale, despite his accusations of coercion. They suspected he was engaged in the robbery’s planning and execution, and that the bomb was not a real explosive device. They swiftly roped off the area surrounding Wells and dispatched a bomb team to inspect the collar.

What they discovered was both stunning and perplexing. The bomb team found that the collar was a real explosive device, ready to detonate if tampered with or if Wells refused to obey the kidnappers’ orders. The gadget was so complicated and sophisticated that bomb squad officers had to consult with other specialists to figure out how it functioned.

Meanwhile, Wells sat on the ground, his wrists and legs bound, waiting for the bomb squad to take the collar off his neck. He seemed composed and even smoked a cigarette at one point. Unfortunately, while the bomb team proceeded to remove the device, it detonated, instantly killing Wells.

The explosion was shown live on television, scaring audiences all across the world. The case immediately became national news, with both law enforcement and the general public trying to make sense of what had transpired.

The Investigation Begins

Following the explosion, law enforcement officers conducted a comprehensive investigation into the bank heist and Brian Wells’ murder. They rapidly realised that the case was far more intricate than they had anticipated.

Wells had been making a pizza delivery on the day of the crime, but investigators were unable to validate his allegations that he had been kidnapped by unknown intruders. They discovered no indication of a fight or forced entry at the site where Wells said he was kidnapped.

They also uncovered that in the hours preceding up to the heist, Wells had made many visits, including a visit to a neighbouring television station, where he left a note in the restroom claiming to have a bomb. On the morning of the crime, investigators discovered evidence that Wells had visited the house of a co-conspirator, a lady called Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong.

Diehl-Armstrong was swiftly identified as a main suspect in the investigation. She had a history of mental illness and had previously been involved in numerous prior illegal activities. She was detained immediately after the bank heist and accused with bank robbery conspiracy, but she maintained her innocence and asserted that she had no participation in the event.

As the inquiry progressed, police found a complicated web of ties and reasons that had led to the bank heist and Brian Wells’ death. They discovered that Diehl-Armstrong had enlisted the assistance of many other people, including a guy called Kenneth Barnes, to help her carry out the crime.

Barnes had built the collar bomb that Wells was wearing, and he had also been engaged in the robbery’s planning. He subsequently pled guilty to bank robbery charges and was sentenced to 45 years in jail.

As the investigation progressed, law enforcement officers determined that the purpose for the bank heist was more than just financial gain. Diehl-Armstrong had a long-running dispute with another person, a guy called William Rothstein, who had lately died of natural causes.

Rothstein had left behind a complex treasure hunt, complete with clues and riddles that lead to a secret key. Diehl-Armstrong was certain that the key led to a great treasure, and she had enlisted the assistance of Barnes and others to help her retrieve it. The bank heist was only one component of a wider plot.

Several concerns concerning the Brian Wells bank robbery case remain unresolved, despite significant investigations and multiple trials. The case’s complicated web of links and objectives makes it one of the most perplexing and bizarre criminal cases in recent history.

Lessons Learned

The Brian Wells bank heist case teaches law enforcement and the general public numerous crucial lessons. First and foremost, it emphasises the significance of conducting complete and exhaustive investigations, especially in circumstances that appear simple at first appearance.

The case also emphasizes the need of openness and accountability in criminal investigations. While the bank robbery investigation was eventually successful, there were significant blunders and miscommunications along the road that might have had fatal effects. To avoid such catastrophes in the future, law enforcement officers and other public workers must be honest and responsible in their conduct.

Ultimately, the story highlights the significance of mental health care and assistance. Several of those engaged in the bank robbery had a history of mental illness, and it is apparent that their illnesses had a role in their participation in the crime. We can help prevent similar tragedies in the future by improving access to mental health care and assistance.


The Brian Wells bank heist case is a sophisticated and perplexing crime that has captivated the public’s interest for more than a decade. The case’s complicated web of ties and motivations emphasises the significance of rigorous and extensive investigations, responsibility and openness in criminal justice, and assistance for mental health care.

While the case is still mostly unknown, it serves as a reminder that even the most weird and peculiar crimes may be solved with attention, persistence, and a devotion to justice.

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