RENO — A bank robber who eluded police for more than two months during a series of holdups at Reno-area banks was arrested after power line workers allegedly spotted her ditching her clothes in some bushes following one of the robberies, federal prosecutors say.
Erica Leigh Morrison, 29, was being held without bail in the Washoe County jail on Tuesday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Valerie Cooke refused her public defender’s request to set bail on Monday, citing a previous criminal record as well as a history of drug use and mental health issues.
The judge scheduled a preliminary hearing Aug. 29 on single federal bank robbery charge. Prosecutors said additional charges could follow stemming from a series of at least six robberies beginning in June.
Public defender Cynthia Hahn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
FBI agents tracked Morrison using DNA evidence obtained from some clothing discarded after the first robbery on June 10 at the Nevada State Bank in downtown Reno across the street from the federal courthouse, investigators said.
Morrison made off with $1,440 after presenting the teller with a note demanding money and warning her she would “get hurt” if she didn’t comply, according to the criminal complaint.
After leaving the bank about 11:20 a.m., members of an NV Energy crew working on a power line nearby observed a woman throw some items into a large green trash can behind a residence and then saw her take off her pants and discard them in a bush, the complaint said.
Detectives recovered a black long-sleeved t-shirt and a pair of black sunglasses from the trash can that appeared to match items the robber was wearing in bank surveillance video.
They also found a pair of gray pants from which they obtained a DNA sample that matched Morrison, who was in the FBI’s records because she had served time for an unspecified charge in California.
Investigators got another break when video cameras showed the same light blue older Ford Taurus at two failed bank robbery attempts just 10 minutes apart on Aug. 7. The same car is seen on videotape at a gas station next door to another Wells Fargo on Northtown Lane that was robbed on Aug. 9 of $3,500 by a woman fitting the same description as the thief in the previous cases.
FBI agents eventually found her living with a friend at a Reno apartment and arrested her on Friday.