Police Hope to Unmask "Geezer Bandit"
It's the case of the Geezer Bandit, who is wanted in a string of brazen bank robberies in Southern California.
The suspect appears to be in his 70's. He walks like an old man, and in a frail voice sends bank tellers a chilling message, "I will murder you." But is he really an old man? The FBI now thinks he may be wearing a mask.
Federal agents have reached out to the manufacturer of realistic masks to determine if the Geezer Bandit may be wearing his product.
"We put every little pore, every little every wrinkle, every little form, to look exactly like a human face. It's very rewarding to see that our masks are that real. But not the way they've been misused," says Rusty Slusser of SPFXMasks.
The masks are incredibly life-like. The so-called Geezer Bandit could be just about anybody, possibly even a woman.
And in Ohio, it was sentencing day for 30-year-old Conrad Zdzierak, another bandit using a similar kind of mask.
"I'd like to apologize for the fear I instilled in the people," he told the court.
Zdzierak posed as a black man, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses when he robbed four banks in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was so convincing, cops arrested an innocent African-American man.
Zdzierak wore an incredibly realistic Hollywood mask. It covers the whole head, even the eyes, and lips are unbelievably lifelike. With the mask on, no one would ever suspect a white guy was the bank robber photographed pulling off the four heists.
"When he put this mask on, he would lose that tender attachment to reality, and he felt that he became a different person," Zdzierak's lawyer told the court.
At the sentencing, the robber's attorney portrayed him as deeply delusional. Many considered his stunt to be racist.
"There have been reports that perhaps Conrad is a racist. That he put on the mask of a black man."
But it turns out it was his girlfriend, who is black, who tipped off cops.
"Conrad is not a racist," his lawyer said.
When Zdzierak appeared unmasked in court he was contrite.
"I realized that I hurt some people and I take responsibility for that," he said.
But the judge wasn't swayed and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
"You are a very dangerous person," she told Zdzierak.
Police say the Geezer Bandit has struck again, bringing his crime spree to a total of 13 robberies. There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.