Cell Phone Bandit, Boyfriend Held in Robberies, Police Say
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Turns out, there really was somebody on the other end of the line.
The "cell phone bandit," who robbed four Northern Virginia banks without missing a conversational beat, was talking to her boyfriend, who was acting as her lookout and getaway driver outside each bank, according to court records and law enforcement officials.
Candice R. Martinez, arrested early yesterday in Centreville, and the boyfriend, Dave C. Williams, told investigators that they planned and carried out each of the Wachovia Bank holdups, according to authorities.
Martinez, 19, a community college student from Santa Fe, N.M., was perhaps the nation's best-known fugitive after police identified her as the woman in the nationally broadcast surveillance video of a Nov. 4 holdup in Ashburn. While looking for Martinez, police targeted Williams, also 19, and picked him up Monday night at an apartment in the Fairfax City area.
Williams, a former Wachovia Bank employee, told investigators that he and Martinez plotted each robbery, starting with an Oct. 12 holdup in Vienna, court records say. Martinez said she walked in, handed over a box with a note demanding $75,000, then stood at the window, chatting on her cell with Williams, who was outside in the getaway car, law enforcement officials said. They made off with $14,700.
Then someone went on a spending spree, according to authorities.
Detectives searching Martinez's Chantilly apartment found a $3,685.21 Circuit City receipt dated Oct. 13 -- the day after the Vienna robbery, according to court records. Police found a Sony personal computer, a digital camera, a computer printer, three Louis Vuitton purses and the box for a T-Mobile cell phone.
Police said they also found two stacks of cash: packets of 30 $50 bills and 20 $100 bills still wrapped in Wachovia bands and dated Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, court records show. Also discovered were a white shirt and black tie, items the cell phone bandit was wearing in her final appearance, Nov. 4 in Ashburn, police said.
But it took two days to find Martinez. Police waited patiently outside her apartment in the Shenandoah Crossing complex on Route 50 in Chantilly. Hoping for help, they released her name to the public Monday, having charged her with robberies in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
Martinez's father, Phillip Martinez, who lives in Santa Fe, seemed incredulous at his daughter's arrest, saying he had sent her to Northern Virginia to get an education. At first, he did not want to comment about his daughter's arrest.
"It hurts too much right now," he said. But then he added, "She just met a bad guy." Gesturing at several small adobe homes around him, Martinez said: "I almost lost these houses to send her to college. She's supposed to be going to college."
Investigators in Loudoun first connected the four robberies after the Ashburn holdup. They noted that the suspect's description in the Ashburn robbery and three earlier robberies -- in Vienna, the Manassas area Oct. 21 and Burke on Oct. 22 -- was the same: a young woman, thin, short and possibly Hispanic, who demanded money while making little contact with tellers. In three holdups, she carried a box with a note attached. In the fourth, she handed over a note and showed the teller a gun in her purse.