One quiet Thursday afternoon, TV stations in Pennsylvania started broadcasting a news flash.
In countless homes, viewers watched pictures of a man kneeling in a car park.
Suddenly, there was a brief flash. A bomb locked around his neck had gone off and he slumped to the ground.
If that does not sound bizarre enough, the case of Brian Wells has been labelled one of the strangest incidents the FBI has ever investigated.
The drama began with Mr Wells, a pizza delivery driver, calmly walking into a bank sucking a lollipop.
He then handed over a note saying he had a bomb strapped around his neck and if he didn't get $250,000 it would go off. He was also carrying a shotgun disguised as a walking stick.
When told the time delay on the safe would take a long time to open, he accepted $8,000 dollars instead.
He then left the bank, swinging his walking stick gun and the bag of money "like Charlie Chaplin", according to one witness.
The police were called and they soon tracked Wells down. Unaware of what was happening, they handcuffed him. Wells told them he'd been forced at gunpoint by three strangers to wear the bomb and rob the bank.
Wells said he had instructions on how to disarm the advice and pleaded with officers to let him go.
Suddenly the device began beeping louder and louder and Wells warned them he only had a little time left. The bomb then went off, blowing a fatal hole in his chest.
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In his car police later found several pages of detailed instructions telling the “bomb hostage” which bank to rob and how to disarm the device by going on an elaborate scavenger hunt for keys and codes. "Act now, think later or you will die", was scrawled at the bottom of the instructions.
However, experts said even without the police's intervention the device, which included four locks and a combination dial, could never have been removed in time.
Wells was destined to die, apparently the victim of some twisted bank robbing bomb makers. Or was he?
It soon emerged Wells had apparently been part of the scheme, even though despite a lengthy investigation and numerous court cases, the whole truth has never been agreed.
But the tale goes something like this.
Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong was no stranger to death. In 1984 she shot her boyfriend Robert Thomas to death but was acquitted on claims of self-defence.
It is now believed she was a serial killer as her many of her previous boyfriends had died in mysterious circumstances.
She wanted to kill her dad for his cash. Crack dealing TV repairman, Kenneth Barnes, said he would do it for $200,000.
Diehl-Armstrong and Bill Rothstein then came up with the pipe bomb collar idea and roped in Wells who had money problems of his own. The idea was the bomb would be a dummy and, if the bank robbery failed, he would not face prosecution as he had supposedly been the victim.
The robbery took place but as we now know, the bomb was real, presumably to silence Wells and keep him from claiming some of the cash.
While investigations continued, police got a call from Rothstein. He told them the body of a man, James Roden, was in his freezer. He said Diehl-Armstrong had shot Roden and she had paid him $2,000 to clean up the scene and hide the gun.
Diehl-Armstrong was subsequently found guilty of the shotgun murder and jailed for up to 20 years.
She then said she would tell the FBI about the bomb case in return to being sent to a more relaxed prison.
She admitted providing equipment for the bomb and said Rothstein was the mastermind behind the plot.
She also said Wells was directly involved in the plan.
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She, Rothstein and a number of others were all charged with numerous offences – but not murder – as Wells had been an accomplice in his own death – even though his family have always denied he had anything to do with the plot.
The full story can be seen in the four part Netflix’s documentary series Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist, which is streaming now.
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