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Suspect, 73, arrested in Illinois bank robbery

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 9:47 a.m. CST

(MCT) — CHICAGO — A 73-year-old man claiming to have only six months to live during a bank robbery on Saturday in Niles, Ill., appeared in federal court Monday after being arrested over the weekend, according to FBI and federal prosecutors.

Walter Unbehaun of Rock Hill, N.C., who previously was convicted of a 1998 bank robbery, was arrested Sunday outside of a hotel in North Chicago by FBI investigators and detectives from the Niles Police Department, according to officials.

He was charged in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court with robbing the Harris Bank branch in Niles, officials said.

Unbehaun, who was described by a teller as an elderly man with a cane, walked into the bank at about 9:43 a.m., handed a note written on a Harris Bank transaction slip and announced a robbery, according to the criminal complaint.

According to a teller the man said, “This is a hold up. I have nothing to lose.”

After saying those words the man opened his jacket to reveal a silver gun tucked into his waistband. The man then continued and said, “I only have six months to live and have nothing to lose. I don’t want to hurt you.”

After the teller handed over $4,178 in cash, the man divided the proceeds into two stacks which he stuffed into separate pockets.

Surveillance cameras from a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant captured images of the man exiting and returning to a gray- or silver-colored sedan and then leaving.

After media reports were issued about the bank robbery and pictures of the suspect were released, a person called authorities and said the man resembled someone they had met and spoken with at a Gurnee, Ill., restaurant on Feb. 8.

The man told the person his name was Wally and that he had driven in from North or South Carolina days earlier to visit friends. The person told police the man appeared to be a friend of an employee at the restaurant. The man said he was using the cane because he recently had hip surgery, according to the complaint.

Police were told the man had a gray or silver vehicle Lexus or Infiniti with out-of-state license plates, according to the complaint.

Separately, on Sunday, a probation officer alerted FBI officials that the man in the pictures was Unbehaun and that he had served time for robbing a bank. Officials said Unbehaun was sentenced in 2000 to 188 months for robbing a bank in 1998, according to the complaint.

According to a Chicago Tribune story, Unbehaun had previously lived in Morton Grove, Ill., and was charged with robbing a LaSalle Bank of $4,000. He was arrested in Niles a short time later.

Unbehaun had been allowed to finish his probation in South Carolina but had violated his probation when he left the state, officials said.

On Sunday, investigators tracked down the restaurant employee who said that Unbehaun had shown up at the restaurant out of the blue after not seeing the man for 20 years, according to the complaint.

They then tracked the man down to the Great Lakes Motel in North Chicago, and arrested him after they spotted the man walking with the cane. When police confronted him, he dropped the cane and allowed police to search his room where they found a loaded handgun, a box of .32-caliber cartridges, and $3,476 in cash.

According to the complaint, Unbehaun said he had spent most of his adult life in prison and “wanted to go back as he felt more comfortable in prison than out,” according to the complaint.

He also told police that he wanted to spend the remainder of his life in prison.

“He knew that robbing a bank with a loaded gun would accomplish that,” according to the complaint.

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