Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

AMBUSH: THE BRINKS ROBBERY OF 1981

Dragnet

Since the time of the robbery and the murders, the F.B.I. and the Rockland County Task Force worked relentlessly to locate and identify every person who gave support to the suspects in the crime. On several occasions, the leader of the gang, Jeral Wayne Williams, AKA Mutulu Shakur, evaded capture. When federal agents arrested Joseph and Ferguson in the Bronx in 1982, Williams managed to escape. And when cops closed in on him in 1983, Williams escaped once again.

In November 1984, Susan Rosenberg, another suspect in the robbery who may have been driving one of the escape vehicles, was arrested in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She and an accomplice had rented a storage facility under a false name. Later, there was confusion concerning which facility she actually rented. The site manager called the police who responded and spoke with Rosenberg. At the time, she was unloading odd-looking items from a U Haul trailer. When cops investigated further, they discovered automatic weapons, blasting caps and 640 lbs. of explosives. As she was taken in handcuffs to the local police lockup, Rosenberg wept in the back of the police unit. "I guess this is your lucky day!" she said to the cops in the front seat.

When F.B.I. agents looked into the recent activities of Rosenberg, they were led to the city of New Haven, CT, where residents identified photographs of Marilyn Jean Buck as one of the people who visited Rosenberg's apartment. She was also the person who rented the U Haul trailer for Rosenberg under a fictitious name. From Connecticut, agents followed the trail to Baltimore, MD, where they missed Buck once again. Inside her apartment though, the F.B.I. found detailed plans to bomb numerous federal office buildings and other institutions in Washington, D.C.

In May 1985, agents located Marilyn Buck and followed her to a diner in Dobbs Ferry, New York, a small village on the banks of the Hudson River. She was taken into custody without incident along with a friend, Linda Sue Evans. At the time of their arrest, Buck was armed with a .38 caliber revolver and Evans had a 9mm automatic handgun. Buck was later convicted of a multitude of charges relating to the Brink's murders and other armored car robberies. She is serving a 50-year sentence in a federal prison in Florida.

The mastermind of the Brink's robbery was finally located in Los Angeles in 1986 by two New York City detectives. Jeral Wayne Williams, AKA Shakur, listed on the F.B.I. Ten Most Wanted list, had outstanding federal warrants for his arrest for bank robbery and racketeering. Detectives were hot on his trail and pursued uncountable leads as to his whereabouts. On February 13, 1986 police spotted Williams walking down Packard Street in East L.A. When they tried to grab him, Williams ran. But pursuing cops used a flying tackle to bring their man down.

Although Susan Rosenberg was never convicted of any Brink's-related charges, court testimony indicated she was a member of "The Family" and may have driven one of the escape vehicles. She was later convicted of charges relating to possession of explosives and received a sentence of 58 years to life. But in December 2000, President Clinton decided she had served enough time in jail. Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans were among the long list of questionable pardons and commuted sentences, which Clinton granted in his final days in office. U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, in the Southern District of N.Y., initiated a criminal investigation of those pardons, which continues as of this writing. Kathy Boudin, currently serving her term at the Bedford Prison for women in New York, failed to win her freedom at a parole hearing in 2001. A determined effort by the victims' families, Rockland County law enforcement and the local communities successfully opposed her release. She can reapply for parole in two years.

Donald Weems, AKA Kuwasi Balagoon, the man who carjacked the BMW and may have been the one who actually killed "Chipper" Brown, died of AIDS in prison in 1986. And Jeral Wayne Williams, the alleged planner of the Brink's robbery and leader of the strange criminal alliance between the B.L.A. and the Weather Underground, was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to sixty years. He is currently in a federal pen in California.

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