Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In early November, the Minneapolis office of the FBI began releasing surveillance photos of a serial bank robber who was quickly dubbed the “man in black.”
In his disguise wearing a dark jacket, hood and face mask, he would boldly point his pistol at bank tellers demanding handfuls of cash.
On Tuesday morning, came the bandit’s latest hold-up at the Rolling Hills bank in Brewster, Minnesota.
“By an individual who walked in with a gun and a similar (modus operandi) to the ‘man in black,’” said the FBI’s Kyle Loven.
The FBI got their break when 49-year-old Mark Edward Wetsch was pulled over in St. Peter, Minn. The FBI says that items of evidence were discovered in his car.
Since late October there have been at least seven bank holdups around the Twin Cities metropolitan area that are believed tied to the serial bank robber.
Investigators say they will also be looking at others from around the state with similarities.
“We have not definitively made the connection between Mr. Wetsch and the man in black series but based upon the MO and other robberies that have occurred we are looking strongly to see if there’s a connection,” Loven said.
Wetsch was just released from federal prison on Oct. 12, 2011 where he was serving a sentence for the swindling of $1.4 million from the Shalom Home West in St. Louis Park. Wetsch had been employed as a director of the home and his thefts date back to 1997.
“So we’ll look into his background to see what his history is and what are some of the things he’s involved in so we can get a complete picture of who Mr. Wetsch really is,” Loven said.
Wetsch is expected to be transported from the Sherburne County jail, where he’s being held, to Nobles County where he will face state charges for the Brewster robbery. Depending on his complicity in the other bank holdups, it’s likely he will also face federal bank robbery charges.
The case has similarities to another infamous bank robber who was responsible for holding up 21 Minnesota banks back in 2005. John Witrock quickly became known as the “fishing hat bandit” for wearing a fishing hat as part of his disguise.
FBI agents will be closely analyzing all the surveillance photos and videos as well as conducting interviews. Agents also searched Wetsch’s Minneapolis home but can’t say what evidence was seized that could tie him to any of the other robberies.