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Linton bank robbery still considered a 'cold case'Posted Friday, October 29, 2010, at 12:15 PM
Do you remember the bank robber on a bicycle, who peddled away with a sack of cash in his backpack in the July 28, 2000 bank robbery at the former Union Planter's branch bank located at Angell's Shopping Center in Linton?
There has been some recent speculation around town and even talk of it at a recent Linton City Council meeting that the bicycle bandit had been apprehended in Missouri and the case was solved.
However, an FBI agent and a spokesperson from the U.S. Attorney's office in Indianapolis say there is nothing to link Chad Schaffner, 38, of Indianapolis, to the brazen daytime bank heist in Linton that happened more than a decade ago.
The Linton robbery took place in the midst of the 2000 Masters Cycling National Championships event that was being staged at nearby Humphreys Park.
More than 3,000 bicyclists were in town that day and it was easy for the male suspect to blend into the crowd and just ride away.
The robbery suspect was wearing "biker" shorts and left on a blue and white colored racing-type bicycle.
There's been plenty of talk about what happened that day in Linton.
But this remains an unsolved cold case, according to Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell, who said his department never worked the case that was assigned to the FBI.
"I remember we had all kinds of calls and leads and who they thought it might be and suspects. It's really hard telling who it was," the police chief, who was a police patrolman at the time, said.
"My understanding was he (Schaffner) wasn't charged because of the simple fact of the statute of limitations ... he would be a good suspect for ours (the Linton robbery). I don't have anything that ties him to it ... I always figured they'd find the guy by the money turning up," Jerrell said.
I asked FBI special agent Andrew Northern and U.S. Attorney Office spokesperson for the southern region of Indiana Mary Bippus if there was a link to Schaffner and the unsolved Linton robbery case.
Both said the robbery was not one they could tie to Schaffner.
Northern told the Greene County Daily World on Tuesday the Linton robbery is not a crime that Schaffner has admitted too anyway.
Bippus said Schaffner was charged in the southern Indiana District a while back for a 2009 robbery of United Commerce Bank in Bloomington.
"That case (in Bloomington) got batched in with some others and he was actually prosecuted in the eastern district of Tennessee. There, he was charged with 11 different robberies in six different districts. The one you called about in Linton was not part of that," she said. "I just know our office never charged him with that particular robbery (in Linton)."
The amount of cash that the robber got away with in the Linton robbery has never been released by authorities or bank officials.
Regions Bank's security head Vicki Worfield also declined to comment about the robbery or whether she had any knowledge that Schaffner might have been involved.
Schaffner, who appeared several times on the TV show "America's Most Wanted", is a bad boy who's spent a good part of his life -- more than 15 years -- behind Indiana Department of Correction prison bars for a number of armed robberies, burglaries, auto theft, receiving stolen property, resisting law enforcement, possession of a handgun without a license and escape charges in Marion and Jefferson counties.
Schaffner had been released from an Indiana prison in December 2008, but his robberies didn't slow down.
Schaffner was arrested Sept. 12, 2009 in Kingdom City, Mo., some two weeks after the billboards started flashing the bank surveillance photos in a nationwide manhunt.
On his latest crime spree, Schaffner traveled more than 600 miles since his first holdup in Louisville, Ky., in May 2009 down to South Carolina, then into North Carolina. He is accused of robberies in Jefferson City and Morristown, Tenn., and in United Commerce Bank in neighboring Bloomington.
He pled guilty in a U.S. District Court in eastern Tennessee in December 2009 to two counts of bank robbery and two counts of use of a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime as part of a plea deal.
Prosecutors have filed notice of intent to seek an enhanced punishment the federal "3 strikes law", which carries a life sentence.
Prosecutors say Schaffner qualifies based on two prior armed robbery convictions in Indiana. His two convictions for use of firearms in a bank robbery also carry life sentences.
His sentencing is set for Dec. 8 and it's a safe bet the guy will be locked up for a long, long time.
He told the FBI agents that he began robbing banks to support his drug addiction.
But for now he's made no admission or confession that he peddled out of Linton a decade ago after robbing the old Union Planters Bank.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487; by e-mail at email@example.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Nick-Sc....
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