DA: Employee and children kidnapped for hours before bank robbery

Wells Fargo, Racine, Wisconsin, bank robbery, kidnapping

Four people stand accused of kidnapping a Kenosha woman and her children, holding them against their will in Milwaukee, and then forcing the woman — a Wells Fargo bank employee — to open the bank in Racine so that they could rob it.

The Racine County District Attorney’s Office issued charges against William Howell, George Pearson-Robb, Donterious Robb, and Lamarra Powell on Thursday. Each had a cash bond set for $1 million or more.

Investigators with the Racine Police DepartmentFBIKenosha Police Department, and the Milwaukee Police Department Robbery Task Force were involved in the case, according to a press release by the Racine Police Department.

William Howell, kidnapping, arson, Wells Fargo Bank
William Howell

William Howell, 19

  • Armed robbery with threat of force
  • Three counts of kidnapping
  • Robbery of a financial institution
  • Arson of property other than the building
  • Bond: $2 million

If convicted of all charges, Howell faces up to life in prison and fines up to $510,000.

George Pearson-Robb, Wells Fargo, armed robbery, kidnapping
George Pearson-Robb

George Pearson-Robb, 19

  • Armed robbery with threat of force
  • Three counts of kidnapping
  • Robbery of a financial institution
  • Arson of property other than the building (Party to a crime)
  • Bond: $1.5 million

If convicted of all charges, Pearson-Robb faces up to life in prison and fines up to $510,000.

Donterious Robb, Wells Fargo, bank robbery, kidnapping
Donterious Robb

Donterious Robb, 23

  • Armed robbery with threat of force
  • Three counts of kidnapping
  • Robbery of a financial institution
  • Arson of property other than the building (Party to a crime)
  • Bond: $1.5 million
  • If convicted of all charges, Robb faces up to life in prison and fines up to $510,000.

Lamarra Powell, Wells Fargo, Bank Robbery, kidnappingLamarra Powell, 18

  • Three counts of kidnapping, a party to a crime
  • Robbery of a financial institution, a party to a crime
  • Bond: $1 million

Men kidnap woman, and her two children

According to the criminal complaint, the Wells Fargo employee ended her shift on June 28 in Racine. Driving to Kenosha, she picked up her children and went to her apartment. As she took her children — ages five and two — out of the car, two men approached her. One of them pointed a gun at her, forced her into the back seat of her car, took her wallet and cell phone, and demanded that she give them the passcode to her phone.

Pointing a gun at her almost the entire time, they drove her to Milwaukee to an unknown location. Once at the residence, they took her and her children down to the basement. The woman overheard the two men talking about a bank robbery they planned to do the next day.

“The unknown black males told (the woman) they needed her to gain entry into the bank and specifically into the bank’s vault,” the woman told the police.

The men gave her a bucket for her children and her to use the bathroom and fed her children Happy meals.  A masked woman came downstairs, but she hung back in the shadows. At one point, she threw blankets and cushions downstairs for her and her children.

During her captivity, one of the men demanded that she give him the pin to her debit card. After giving them the information, they took over $300 out of her account.

“Suspect 2… began to talk with her and told her his birthday was August 13, 1996, and … that he was a ‘Leo.'”

Woman forced at gunpoint to open bank

At about 5 a.m., the men put an article of clothing over her head so that it covered her eyes. She and her children were taken in her car to the Wells Fargo Bank in Racine. Once there, the clothing over her head was removed. Three men were in the car with her. Two of the men had guns. The other had money bags.

With guns pointed at her, the men instructed her to enter the security code to disable the alarm. All three men, her two children, and the woman entered the west side of the bank. The men emptied the teller drawers in the bags and left out the side door. They drove away in the woman’s car in an unknown direction.

After the men left, the woman stayed inside the bank with her two children. She entered the distress code to trigger the alarm and went to call the police. But the phones were dead. Running outside, she asked a customer at the ATM machine to call the police.

How police apprehended the suspects

Video surveillance cameras near the woman’s home in Kenosha showed that the car the men drove had a spare tire on it. Not long after the woman was kidnapped, the driver of the vehicle had a flat tire at 8:46 p.m. A Wisconsin State Trooper — not realizing what had transpired — had contact with Pearson-Robb. He wrote him a citation and gave him a ride to a nearby gas station.

The video surveillance camera at the gas station showed that Pearson-Robb wore the same Victoria Secret “Pink” hooded sweatshirt then as he did during the bank robbery the next morning.

On Monday, officers with the Racine Police and Milwaukee Police departments searched Robb’s and Howell’s home. Between the two homes, they found the woman’s driver’s license, five fake guns that looked like 9mm handguns, $3,900 in cash, and $2,360 in newly purchased clothing.

Talking with investigators, Robb told different versions of what had happened. He said he, Pearson-Robb, and Howell started talking about the bank robbery weeks before. He admitted having a fake gun with him. He also said: “he felt bad about kidnapping (the woman) because her children were with her and he spent time talking with her in the basement about their birthdays.”

Howell told police that he didn’t know anything about the woman’s car being burned. Robb admitted that he was at the Pilot Station in Franksville. But he, Powell, and Howell said they didn’t know anything about the robbery.

A preliminary hearing has been set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Racine County Circuit Court.

 

About Denise Lockwood 806 Articles
Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.