EAST ST. LOUIS — The man accused of a multi-state bank robbery spree, including a bank robbery in O'Fallon on Tuesday, took time out from his court appearance on Wednesday to compliment federal agents.
"The FBI has been very nice to me," Carl Frederick Kieffer told U.S. Magistrate Stephen Williams, who was conducting his initial appearance on federal bank robbery charges.
Police arrested Kieffer, 49, of Spokane, Wash., on Tuesday afternoon in a Swansea cornfield after a two-hour manhunt. Kieffer walked into the Bank of O'Fallon about 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday and handed the teller a note, implying he had a gun and he wanted no dye packs, according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Daniel D. Cook.
Kieffer then demanded money and fled the bank with $3,300 in cash, Cook stated.
O'Fallon police spotted a 1997 Grand Prix leaving the scene and gave chase. Belleville police later spotted the Grand Prix in a cornfield near Smelting Works Road in Swansea.
O'Fallon Interim Police Chief Jeff Wild found Kieffer lying in the grass and described the suspect putting his hands up.
"I think he said, 'Don't shoot. I don't have a gun,'" Wild said.
Police found a "wad" of money in Kieffer's pocket, according to Cook's affidavit.
Later, Kieffer confessed to Cook that he committed six bank robberies in Wyoming, Michigan, Ohio and central Illinois before committing Tuesday's bank robbery in O'Fallon, the charge stated.
Kieffer is a suspect in the following bank robberies:
* Aug. 26 at the Lusk State Bank in Lusk, Wyo.
* Sept. 5 at the Chase Bank in Novi, Mich.
* Sept. 13 at New Carlisle Federal Savings Bank in Tipp City, Ohio.
* Sept. 16 at the Bank and Trust in Farmersville, Ill.
* Oct. 3 at the Huntington National Bank in Bolivar, Ohio.
* Oct. 9 at the Fifth Third Bank Branch in Charlotte, Mich.
The case against Kieffer will proceed first in the Southern District of Illinois, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Porter. Under federal law, defendants can choose to consolidate their cases and opt for a single sentence. A federal bank robbery charges carries a possible penalty of 10 years in prison or a $250,000 fine or both.
Kieffer appeared in court in a red T-shirt, jeans and shower shoes. His wrists were shackled to a chain around his waist. His ankles were shackled.
At his hearing, Williams appointed the U.S. Public Defender's Office to represent Kieffer. Public Defender Ethan Skaggs appeared with Kieffer at Wednesday. He waived his detention hearing and preliminary hearing.
Richard Thoman, president of the Bank of O'Fallon, said he is grateful no one was hurt during the robbery.
"We are very, very pleased with the O'Fallon Police Department and how they responded so quickly and did an excellent job getting him," he said. "O'Fallon was here right away as soon as we set off the alarm. It seems they were here instantaneously, getting a description of the man and talking to employees."
He added that he is also thankful for all of the police departments who aided in the search and arrest of the suspect.
The Bank of O'Fallon has been in business for more than 50 years.
"In my experience there has never been a robbery or an attempted robbery at the bank and we feel very fortunate that we haven't had a past robbery," he added. "We've worked with our staff a lot on what we need to do in case of a robbery and everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do. But the most important thing is that no one got hurt."
The bank was back to business as usual Wednesday, Thoman said.
"And it's been a much quieter day today."
Reporter Jennifer Schaaf contributed information for this story.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at email@example.com or 239-2570.