Date: January 9, 2002 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Aaron Flint, (863) 534-6377 or 502-8262 pager

Witnesses State That Bank Robbery Suspects Got Into Another Vehicle; Reward of Up to $7000 Offered!

At least 2 individuals have informed Polk County Sheriff's detectives this afternoon that they witnessed 2 of the SunTrust Bank robbery suspects get into another vehicle shortly after abandoning a white Oldsmobile on Deena Way in Winter Haven. 

At approximately 12:30 p.m. yesterday (January 8, 2002), 2 black males robbed the SunTrust Bank located at 2800 Recker Highway in Winter Haven. During the robbery, the Branch Manager, Martha Villarreal, 37, of Auburndale, was shot in the face.

After exiting the bank, the 2 suspects got into a stolen white 1984 Oldsmobile Royale possibly occupied by a third suspect.  The vehicle was recovered by Polk Sheriff's detectives shortly after the robbery on Deena Way.  An unknown amount of cash covered in red dye was found inside the vehicle. 

According to 2 witnesses that detectives spoke with this afternoon, they saw 2 black males fitting the description of the bank robbers fleeing from the Oldsmobile in the direction of Carla Ct., which is 1 block east of Deena Way in Winter Haven. The witnesses state that the suspects were picked up by a light skinned black female possibly in her early to mid 20's.  The vehicle she was in is described as a light blue (powder blue) newer model 4 door Crown Victoria.  It has 20 inch wheels, a temporary tag in the license plate holder, and dark tinted windows.  According to one of the witnesses, the Crown Victoria headed down Carla Ct. in the direction of Coleman Rd.

The suspect responsible for shooting Villarreal is described as approximately 5'11” tall, 210 lbs., having a moustache, speaking with possibly a Haitian accent, wearing dark colored jeans and a dark colored jacket, and in his mid 20's.  The second suspect in the robbery is described as approximately 5'6” tall, 190 lbs., wearing a dark blue and green flannel shirt or jacket.  A third suspect believed to be in the Oldsmobile outside of the bank is described only as black.  Witnesses could not confirm whether it was a male or female.  According to witnesses that spoke with detectives today, the driver of the light blue Crown Victoria is a light skinned black female possibly in her early to mid 20's.     

Anyone wanting to remain anonymous, be eligible for a reward of up to $2000 from Polk County Crime Stoppers, and eligible for an additional reward of up to $5000 from the Florida Banker's Association should contact Polk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS. Anonymity is Guaranteed!


Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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