Trio accused of violent Portland bank robberies

Trio accused of violent Portland bank robberies

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by Colin Miner, KGW Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

kgw.com

Posted on November 14, 2010 at 10:08 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 15 at 9:36 AM

PORTLAND -- Police said they busted a trio of bank robbers this week as the gang was getting ready to pull of their third heist in as many months.

Stanley N. Ames, 31, and Pamela M. McGowan, 25, of Portland, and 28-year-old Eric S. Wilcoxson, of Tigard, appeared before Federal Magistrate Judge Donald C. Ashmanskas Friday afternoon on Federal bank robbery charges after police arrested them seizing evidence including what they said was a ledger detailing how they plit the proceeds of their crimes.

Background: The first robbery

On Saturday, September 18, 2010, at approximately 11:40 a.m., two robbers entered the US Bank in Portland's Woodstock neighborhood. The three were described as "wearing theatrical or Halloween masks and hooded sweatshirts.

They were armed with handguns.

They announced the robbery by firing a round into the ceiling of the bank.  

One robber remained in the lobby while the other demanded to be let into the secure area behind the bullet-proof glass. That robber ordered to tellers to open their drawers and remove the money, which they did.

The robbers made off with $11,490.00 in cash - including five $10 bills that had been specially marked as "bait money."

Witnesses said the robbers drove off in a car driven by a white woman. The witnesses recorded the license plate number and police were able to take a picture of the car driving away - complete with a close-up the plate.

Detective Work:

Police tracked the car to a woman who had sold it on Craigslist to a woman who identifed herself as "Jenny Smith" and a man who never gave his name.

The car owner told police that while she didn't have a phone number for "Smith," Smith had emailed her.

Police tracked the email address to Sulzer Pumps, based in Portland, according to court records. The company gave police employee records and photos, which they brought to the car owner who identified one of the employees as the man who had accompanied "Jenny Smith."

That man was Sulzer employee Stanley Ames when police examined his computer, they determined that not only did the internet provider address match the one that was sent to inquire about buying the car on Craigslist, but the "Jenny Smith" email address had also been created on his computer.

Background: The second robbery

Cops started investigating Ames and discovered he was associated with a woman named Pam McGowan. They showed a picture of her to the owner of the Escort who identified her as "Jenny Smith"

As police started to find out more about McGowan/Smith, the robbrers struck again.

On October 8th, at about 12:46 p.m., they hit the US Bank on NE 42nd Avenue.

"As in the Woodstock robbery, the robbers were both wearing theatrical or Halloween masks and hooded sweatshirts and were armed with handguns," according to court papers.

"The robbers announced the robbery by firing a round into the ceiling ofthe bank and stating it was a bank robbery. One robber remained in the lobby area and ordered everyone to the ground. The
other robber demanded entry to the secured area behind the bullet-resistant enclosure. The
robber demanded the two tellers open their drawers. The robber removed the money from the
drawers."

Again, they made off with approximately $11,000 - though, fortunately for the police, again with marked bills.

Surveillance:


Meanwhile, investigators continued looking into McGowan and Ames.

They discovered that McGowan had ordered and paid for three sets of body armor - two for men, one for a woman - and had them delivered to the address she and Ames shared.

Police also watched as McGowan met with a man named Eric Wilcoxson at a Starbucks at 82nd and Holgate where they used a netbook to log onto the wireless network and browse Craigslist ads for used cars.

McGowan and Wilcoxson were then tailed as they went to a house in SE Portland and bought a used SAAB.

When police went back to talk to the person who sold the car, they discovered that some of the bait money from the bank robberies had been used to pay for it.

Arrests:

Police got a search warrant for the house where McGowan and Ames lived.

According to court records, they found a ".40 caliber Taurus semi-automatic handgun, a.32 caliber Kel-Tee semi-auto, ammunition, two sets of concealable body armor, clothing that
matched the clothing worn by the robbers on the bank video surveillance, distinct masks that
matched the masks worn by the robbers in the video surveillance"

Investigators also found "a handwritten ledger with notes regarding vehicle purchases, ballistic armor, and police frequency scanners, and individual profits split three ways in the name of 'Pam,' 'Stan,' and 'Eric' with an itemized cost total equaling the amount stolen from the robbery."

Ames and McGowan were taken into custody at which point, according to police, she "confessed to her role in the robberies as a getaway driver and named" Wilcoxson as the other robber.

She also said they had planned a third robbery for Friday the 12th but not in the city of Portland.

"She declined to say where," according to court papers.

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