Ronald Heiligh says he isn't mad at his mother, even though she called FBI agents and told them he had robbed a bank.
"I think she did the right thing for me." Heiligh said in an interview yesterday after pleading guilty to the bank robbery in U.S. District court here. "She's always done the right thing."
Heiligh, 23, faces a possible maximum prison term of 25 years for the May 11 robbery he pulled with two other persons. He is free on personal bond pending sentencing.
Heiligh's arrest came after an exceptionally clear surveillance photograph of him robbing the bank was published in The Washington Post.
Among the readers of The Post that morning was his mother, Mrs. Genet Heiligh of 914 C St. SE. She recognized her son as the gunman and called the FBI as the photograph caption suggested.
Heiligh, who was has no previous criminal record said he then called the FBI himself and surrended.
"I'm not mad at my mother," Heiligh said yesterday. "She didn't believe me to be a crook."
Heiligh, an unemployed cement mason, said he become involved in the bank robbery when "some people came by" while he was out of work. He said he was "out in a daze - mad at how society was treating me," and decided to go along with the robbery.
"I didn't go in there pointing a gun at anybody. I didn't hurt them or razz them. That gun was never loaded," Heiligh said.
Heiligh said his experience shows him that unemployment breeds crime for others, as well as himself. He said numerous other immates during his stay at D.C. Jail also had complained that job conditions on the outside drove them to crime.
"I hope where they send me, I can do something to let my mother know I'm still her son - that all the badness is out of me and that I've still got the goodness left," Heiligh said.
He said he was "in a daze" throughout the robbery and just remembers having some money after the stolen $3,600 was divided among the robbers. "I just tried to help my mother some," he said adding he was unsure how much money he got.
In retrospect, he said, "It does seem like I wanted to get caught" since he didn't even wear a mask. "I was out in a daze - my world was just falling down there," he said.
Heiligh's participation in the robbery of the National Savings and Trust Bank at 1 Indiana Ave. NW was outlined in Court by before U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell by Heiligh, defense attorney Sol. Z. Rosen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Schaars. Heiligh held a handgun while the two other robbers - neither of whom have been indentified - collected money from the tellers' cages.
Subsequently, Heiligh's two sister and four persons in the bank also identified him as the robber with the gun.
Although he said his unemployment had made him bitter and turned him to crime once, Heiligh said he had learned his lesson.
It didn't solve any problems. It just made things worse in life for me and my family," he said.