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Man Jailed in Bank Robberies says ‘Joker’ Disguise was Mistake

August 3, 1989

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ A bank robbery suspect says he started out trying to disguise himself as a woman, but the more makeup he put on, the more he looked like the Joker in the film ″Batman.″

Richard Hensarling Jr., 25, of Deltona was arrested in the robberies of four central Florida banks.

In a telephone interview from the Volusia County Jail, he described for an interview published Thursday in the Orlando Sentinel how he came to look something like the movie crook.

″Once I looked at myself in the mirror after I had the white stuff on, I said, ‘Wow, you look like the Joker,’ so I painted the lips up a little.″

He stuffed his cheeks with toilet paper to enhance the Joker effect.

Hensarling, slight at 5-foot-7 and 135 pounds, said he started out trying to disguise himself as a woman. He wore a bra stuffed with toilet paper during one holdup, he said, but now regrets that.

″When you’re in jail with a bunch of men and they read a story that you’re dressed up like a woman, well, all I can say is it’s not too much fun,″ he said. ″I don’t think I could last long in state prison.″

Hensarling, who was once convicted of forgery, was charged in Orlando Wednesday with three counts of bank robbery, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Hinshelwood. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Hensarling said he wants people to know he never used a weapon in the robberies. He simply gave tellers notes advising them not to panic and to hand over cash.

And the Joker wasn’t his only costume.

A teller at the Lake Helen branch of the Florida National Bank, robbed July 6, told police the bandit looked like ″a made-up dance hall girl″ but with a fake mustache.

Hensarling said he wore dark makeup for that holdup, trying to look Mexican.

Hensarling said he was terrified he would be killed during the robberies, but felt he had no choice because drug dealers were threatening his family because a relative owed them money.

Police haven’t verified that story, but they haven’t discounted it either.

A dye that marked cash from Monday’s robbery of a Freedom Savings branch in southwest Orange County led police to Hensarling, said Lake Helen police chief Tom Ling.

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