Dorchester

Accused Peabody Bank Robber Who Fled in Taxi Allegedly Told Teller He Had Bomb Strapped to His Chest

A man accused of robbing a bank in Peabody, Massachusetts and then fleeing the scene in a taxi cab allegedly told the teller he had a bomb and, "the thing on my chest doesn’t have much time,” according to prosecutors.

Leo Willwerth, 32, of East Boston, appeared in Peabody District Court on Tuesday and was charged with bank robbery. Willwerth is being held without bail and he pleaded not guilty through a court-appointed lawyer.

State police said the Bank of America on Andover Street was robbed in the middle of the afternoon on Monday by a man claiming he had a bomb.

Police say Willwerth took more than $1,000 from the bank on Monday and also admitted to robbing two other banks in Boston last week.

Police said the suspect took a cab from the North Shore Mall parking lot, located across the street from the bank that was robbed, to Dorchester with a woman.

The taxi was stopped near the South Bay Shopping Center in Dorchester near Interstate 93 and Melnea Cass Boulevard. Police then arrested the suspect, identified Willwerth.

Police said it's unclear if the woman in the cab had a role in the bank robbery, and added she is not currently charged.

A Tri-City Taxi dispatcher for the taxi driver told NBC10 Boston the taxi driver had no way of knowing what he was getting into when he answered the call for a pick-up.

"When we came out of the tunnel, he said, 'What do you think that helicopter is doing up there?' and I said, 'I don't know. Probably an accident,'" said the cab driver, who wanted to be known only as Kevin. "It was a state police helicopter."

"A woman called, but we could hear the man behind her giving her instructions," the dispatcher, who only wanted to be identified as Bob, said.

The dispatcher said they lost contact with the car along Route 1, and were contacted by state and local police during the incident.

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The taxi driver was a bit shaken by the ordeal, but Bob the dispatcher said he is otherwise okay.

"He is a seasoned driver, he knows what he is doing out there," the dispatcher said.

The investigation into the robbery is ongoing.

It's unclear if Willwerth has an attorney.

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