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Movie-Inspired Robbery Has Bad End

August 12, 1998

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ Just like in the movies, one robber held a watch and called out the time in five-second intervals and others stood watch or vaulted the bank counter and grabbed the cash.

They left 53 seconds later, with one robber calmly thanking the tellers and customers on the way out.

The crime may have been inspired by a Hollywood thriller, but police say the heist was more reminiscent of a bad home movie. A trail of clues easily led police to the suspects _ two women and three young girls.

``Nobody in our department, and I’ve been here almost 15 years, has seen anything like this,″ Detective Russ Gies said.

Virginia Marie Kay, 33, and Amber Lynn Wood, 20, were charged Wednesday with first-degree robbery. Both remained in jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.

The three teen-agers were fleeing on a bus to Mexico when police picked them up Monday in Vacaville, Calif. They were charged Tuesday in juvenile court with first-degree robbery.

The youngest, Tiffany E.J. Sullivan, 14, is Ms. Kay’s daughter, police said. Prosecutors identified the other two as 15-year-olds Patricia Ann Rosander and Marsha Ann Thomas.

Authorities said the July 31 robbery at the Anchor Savings Bank apparently was inspired by the movie ``Set It Off″ about a gang of female bank robbers. The robbers’ actions at the bank were nearly identical to the movie.

``We have reports from their associates that they watched the movie numerous times in the last two weeks,″ Gies said. Police recovered a copy of the movie at the ramshackle house shared by the five in the logging town of Aberdeen, about 60 miles west of Olympia.

Dressed in hooded sweatshirts, dark stocking caps and bandannas, the robbers stormed the bank and ordered everyone to the floor. Two robbers waving handguns circled the room while two vaulted the counter and grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash. A fifth person stood lookout outside.

The robbers fled, dumping their clothes and guns in the woods and catching a public bus back home to Aberdeen. Among the abandoned clothing was an Aberdeen High School wrestling sweatshirt.

The robbers also told many people about their robbery plan and then bragged afterward, even inviting some friends to flee with them to Mexico, Gies said.

All of the suspects except Ms. Kay confessed, authorities said.

Ms. Kay told police she was camping at the time and was falsely implicated by Wood.

Ms. Kay’s son, Bobby Sullivan, said he doesn’t believe his mother’s story.

``I think my mom influenced it all,″ he said. ``Mom has done stupid stuff all her life and finally she’s brought my sister down.″

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