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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Special Report - The Pizza Bomber
Aired October 12, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper.
It was a hot summer afternoon in Erie, Pennsylvania. Into a small branch bank stepped a man wearing a white a T-shirt and what he said was a bomb strapped underneath. He turned out to be a local pizza deliveryman. The bomb turned out to be very real.
So real that for the first time in the history of the FBI, a bank robbery was elevated to major case status. And that was only the beginning, the beginning of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI, one that would unravel into a murder, a scavenger hunt with life and death at stake, and a conspirator who is still walking free today.
Drew Griffin has the story.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The most bizarre bank robbery in the history of the FBI.
Who came up with the idea and what was the motivation behind it?
With deadly results and deadly surprises.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And sure enough, there was a dead body in there.
GRIFFIN: How you doing?
A suspect who is still free.
By his own admission, he put the bomb on the guy's neck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
And a sister still grieving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brian never was materialistic. He never was greedy. He never would have done this.
GRIFFIN: August 28th, 2003, Erie, Pennsylvania. Within minutes of robbing a bank, Brian Wells is surrounded by police, cross legged on the ground and handcuffed. He told police he was a pizza delivery man and he delivered a pizza. The group he delivered it to captured him, he told police, put this bomb on his neck and told him to rob a bank. He asks police to call his boss. Then to save his life.
BRIAN WELLS, PIZZA DELIVERY MAN: Why is it nobody is trying to come get this off me?
GRIFFIN: Twenty-five minutes tick by, then the device begins to beep.
WELLS: I heard this thing ticking. It's going to go off.
GRIFFIN: In an instant, the bank robber is dead.
The death of Brian Wells in this parking lot that day turned out to be only the beginning of the most elaborate, intricate, and some say still-unsolved bank robbery case the FBI has ever had.
DAVID HICKTON, U.S. ATTORNEY WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA: At the end of it all, our system worked. Our law enforcement partners solved the puzzle and we achieved convictions and long sentences.
GRIFFIN: The FBI, the local police, and the U.S. attorney's office simply want this case to be closed. But is it? Tonight you decide. Did the FBI catch all the suspects? Did the FBI let one of them walk? And did the FBI make a mistake putting blame on a pizza delivery man whose secrets blew up in a parking lot?
It was a hot Thursday afternoon. Jean Heid was expecting to see her brother at a party that night, but she had one errand to run, a quick trip on Peach Street, but there was trouble. Police had blocked the road, cops and cars everywhere. She turned around and went home.
JEAN HEID, BRAIN WELLS' SISTER: I come home, and I tell my husband something happened up there. So, we don't know what happened.
GRIFFIN: It was only later that night watching the 10:00 news she learned what that traffic was all about.
HEID: My kids are sitting on the couch, and then the story airs of this bank robbery and a man came into the bank with a bomb on him.
GRIFFIN: You are recognizing your --
HEID: My brother sitting there with this bomb on him. And I'm thinking OK, the police have him. They will find out who did this to him. Then as it goes on, it was like it was Brian exploded. You know, the bomb went off. Brian is dead, and I'm like I can't believe this.
GRIFFIN: That's how you found out?
HEID: That's how I found out about it. Nobody called us earlier.
GRIFFIN: You watched a news report --
HEID: I watched the news report at 10:00.
GRIFFIN: And watched your brother blow up? HEID: Yes. So, I'm sitting there and then I heard that he blew up. And then I call all my brothers and sisters and tell them what I think I saw. And they think I'm nuts because Brian's not a bank robber.
GRIFFIN: After the explosion, one of the first things the cops did was look inside his car. And they found these, meticulous notes that amounted to a bizarre scavenger hunt. Notes given to Brian Wells instructing him to follow a lengthy set of orders if he wanted to survive.
RICH SCHAPIRO, JOURNALIST: Laying out this puzzling, highly complex scavenger hunt directing him to go to specific places.
GRIFFIN: Rich Shapiro is a journalist who has written extensively about the robbery for wired magazine.
SCHAPIRO: The notes suggested at the very end of this if she completed it in the allotted time, which wasn't much, that he would be able to save his life.
GRIFFIN: Have you asked yourself why didn't my brother Brian get in that car and drive straight to the police station?
HEID: No. I never asked that because Brian was in survival mode. I truly believe that he was trying to save his life and others' lives. There's no police station nearby. You got a bomb, a live ticking bomb. You've got a time limit. These suckers say you got 55 minutes, man, do or die. What are you going to do? You're going to run to the police station? Where is it? No. You're going to try to do and survive. I truly believe he was trying to save his life and others' lives.
GRIFFIN: But the police had no idea what to think. Was Brian Wells a victim? Was he in on the robbery? What were those notes all about and who wrote them? Why? There were no answers, but plenty of agencies wanting to be involved in the biggest case Erie had ever seen.
BOB RUDGE, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We have formed a multi-agency task force comprised of the Pennsylvania state police, the ATF, the Erie police department specifically the bomb squad, the United States attorney's office and the Erie county district attorney's office.
JIM FISHER, FORMER FBI AGENT: I wouldn't be surprised if some gang warden was on the task force.
GRIFFIN: Jim Fisher, a former FBI agent and criminologist studied the case from the beginning.
FISHER: So you have 50 people running around randomly conducting, you know, leads with very little coordination. No one really seemed to be in charge.
GRIFFIN: From the outset, he believes the FBI, the Erie police, all the law enforcement agencies involved were on the wrong track. This was not, he says, a bank robbery. You believe Brian Wells was murdered.
FISHER: Well, he was murdered and it was a first degree murder. This was an intentional, premeditated homicide. Moreover, it was extremely cruel in the way the crime was executed.
GRIFFIN: Not just the crime, the actual bomb was a crude masterpiece of someone's twisted art. Police would find intricate decoy cables, homemade lock. It all made into a bizarre puzzle wrapped around the neck of the victim. And whatever this was, a bank robbery, a violent murder, the case was about to take another bizarre almost unreal twist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a frozen body in the freezer in the garage.
GRIFFIN: A second body, this one hidden in a freezer. And a new suspect telling an even stranger tale.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What came first the body or the freezer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Body came in, I put it on a cart.
GRIFFIN: Just ahead, a man, a body, and an ever-expanding cast of suspects.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): As Brian Wells was on the ground in that half hour after he robbed the bank, another man was watching everything unfold from across the street. According to an FBI affidavit, informants said a 63-year-old handyman named William Rothstein was sitting in his car eyes focused on Brian Wells. Bill Rothstein, officials later said, was the master mind behind the entire scheme.
BILL ROTHSTEIN, SUSPECT IN BANK ROBBERY: I put a piece of green tarp down here to put his body on.
GRIFFIN: This is Bill Rothstein a few months after that bank robbery in a police evidence tape where he's explaining to a detective how he helped a former girlfriend Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong dispose of a body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What came first the body or the freezer?
ROTHSTEIN: The body came in, I put it on a cart. I'll show you where the cart is. The cart with big wheels. Yes, that one there.
GRIFFIN: But what's really going on here? What did that body in the freezer and Bill Rothstein's confession have to do with the collar bomb explosion that killed Brian Wells? In a word, everything.
Bill Rothstein told police he was just doing Marjorie a favor. He claimed Marjorie had killed her abusive ex-boyfriend named Jim Roden, but the FBI investigation tells another story. Roden knew about the bank robbery plot and was about to go to police. Rothstein made that mess go away.
DOUGLAS SUGHRUE, MARJORIE DIEHL-ARMSTRONG'S ATTORNEY: He came to the house and helped. He took the body out and cleaned everything up. Cleaned the walls, replaced floor boards, replaced everything. Painted, got rid of everything that might have blood on it. Didn't necessarily got rid of any basically stored it in his garage. But he also then grabbed the body and unbeknownst to Marjorie, bought a freezer to put the body in and he just held the body.
GRIFFIN: After Rothstein turned her into police for the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Marjorie stunned investigators with another twist. She connected Rothstein to Erie's biggest bank robbery.
SUGHRUE: I mean, to build the bomb and test the bomb and all the components, he had to have already been building it and designing it.
GRIFFIN: And in Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, he had someone suddenly was forced to be a conspirator.
SUGHRUE: I think when Bill Rothstein was asked, obviously, he should have said no, I can't help you or you should call the police right away. He chose not to and what that left of him with was someone with bipolar personality disorders not otherwise specified with paranoid borderline.
In doing that he also said I need money. So Marjorie just gave him like $75,000 worth of money that she also kept at the house. So Bill Rothstein was left with two of the most important things to hold over Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. Number one, all for money and number two, a dead body that would make her lose her liberty for the rest of her life.
GRIFFIN: Even though Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong had been talking with police, it took the FBI nearly four more years before it could tie up all the loose ends. Everybody, the FBI said, was involved with the robbery. Bill Rothstein, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, even another suspect, a crack dealer named Kenneth Barnes. And Barnes claimed Brian Wells was in on the plot from the beginning and he was duped.
SCHAPIRO: Wells was essentially told he would be robbing the bank but the device that was been put around his neck would be fake. So he would not be putting himself in harm's way. As it turns out, he was double crossed.
GRIFFIN: Criminologist Jim Fisher believes it was Rothstein who wanted to pull off the perfect diabolical crime that would baffle the investigators. The elaborate scavenger hunt would eventually send police to a dead end. The confusing yet meticulously crafted collar bomb, even the white t-shirt Brian Wells wore into the bank spray painted with the word "guess." To Fisher, all of it hatched in the mind of a mad man.
FISHER: The kind of motive we can understand, like a standard bank robbery, is someone needs the money. And then we have a category of crime involving motives that a normal person can't really understand.
GRIFFIN: You're describing Bill Rothstein.
FISHER: That would be Bill Rothstein in my mind. To me, he fits to a "T," the profile of someone who would commit such a bizarre and pathological crime.
GRIFFIN: But now four years after the original crime, the government had to prove in court its theory was correct. And there were two big problems. Rothstein, the alleged master mind, died before even officially being linked to the crime. And the other main suspect, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, had shown so many lies, she was showing evidence of mental problems and a personality disorder.
SUGHRUE: The mental illness was a 30-year history. The personality disorders were a 30-year history. She was able to be directed by Bill Rothstein to do anything that Bill Rothstein wanted her to accomplish whether it would be fire herself or to help Ken Barnes doing what -- in the conspiracy. And it wouldn't take much because all you had to do was remind her that I got a body in a freezer and I got a bunch of cash in my basement. That's what unfortunately for Marjorie drives her.
GRIFFIN: Over many delays and many more years, the government finally obtained convictions on charges of bank robbery and murder. Life plus 30 years for Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. A lesser sentence for police Kenneth Barnes, because he testified on part of prosecutors. Brian Wells, died with that bomb around his neck, well, the federal government said he, too, was in on the crime.
HEID: When Brian delivered the pizza, he was accosted at gun point by a group of strangers whom he did not know. They shot at him when he tried to run away. They knocked him to the ground.
GRIFFIN: The FBI version, as you know, is different.
HEID: That's a lie. That's a lie. That's all their fabrication.
GRIFFIN: The FBI did agree to sit down with CNN to explain their case and their prosecution. How it all went down. They just wanted to know the day we'd arrive here in Erie and where the interview would take place. Then the FBI began asking us questions. Who else would be interviewed for this report? And suddenly the interview with the FBI was off.
Jim Fisher says the FBI and the U.S. attorney took the easy way out and never really solved the case.
FISHER: Bill Rothstein died about a year after the crime, and he died with, in my opinion, all the secrets, all the answers. And to that extent, well, nobody literally dies laughing. He went to his grave knowing that he had outfoxed everyone.
GRIFFIN: Neither the U.S. attorney's office nor the FBI would comment to CNN about Fisher's assertions. And yet there is someone who is alive who Kenneth Barnes says was at Rothstein's house the day of the robbery, but was never charged in the crime. He is the convicted sex offender granted immunity in exchange for testimony he was never asked to give.
Brian Wells' family is really wanting to know about you, sir. Please.
Could this man hold the answers that could finally solve the case?
GRIFFIN (voice-over): In her search for justice, Jean Heid says she has spent years trying to learn the truth from the one man she believes now holds the key to her brother's innocence. His name is Floyd A. Stockton, a convicted sex offender who authorities say was living with Bill Rothstein on the day of the bank robbery. He goes by the nickname Jay.
HEID: Jay Stockton is a convicted rapist, serial sexual battery of his wife, and he's out there. He is out there, people.
GRIFFIN: He is the only one left alive and sane enough to tell the truth, she believes. Yet the federal government has allowed him to go free.
HEID: They know that my brother is innocent, 100 percent.
GRIFFIN: According to this FBI affidavit, investigators learned of Stockton's knowledge to the crime when Stockton talked about it in a monitored phone call from jail. Stockton was released then given immunity to testify for the government in the pizza bomb case.
KENNETH EUGENE BARNES, SUSPECT, BANK ROBBERY: My name is Kenneth Eugene Barnes.
GRIFFIN: There is also the testimony of this man, Kenneth Barnes.
BARNES: Like I say, I'd never kill anybody.
GRIFFIN: Barnes pled guilty and is serving a 20-year sentence for his role in the case. But it's this FBI search warrant affidavit now obtained by CNN which raises even more questions about why Jay Stockton has been allowed to go free.
According to the affidavit, Barnes and others involved in the case say Floyd Stockton was deeply involved in the plot. Barnes even telling the FBI on the day of the crime, it was Stockton who went into the garage, got the collar bomb, and handed it to Rothstein. When he asked then-U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania Mary Beth Buchanan why Stockton never testified and was never charged, she initially told us Stockton was sick, had suffered several strokes and was unable to travel.
After our initial phone call, Buchanan never talked to us again. And at a news conference in Erie, the current U.S. attorney David Hickton wasn't forthcoming either.
What about Mr. Stockton? What can you tell us about his status and will he ever be prosecuted for this?
HICKTON: We're not at position to comment on Mr. Stockton.
GRIFFIN: What did your investigation find? What was his role?
JERRY CLARK, FORMER FBI AGENT: There's no question Mr. Stockton had a role that day directly from him and other co-defendants in the case.
GRIFFIN: Jerry Clark was the FBI's lead investigator throughout the entire case. He and reporter Ed Palatello co-wrote a book "Pizza Bomber: the untold story of America's most shocking bank robbery."
CLARK: That indicated that he was in his mind coerced or forced to put the device around Mr. Wells' neck and he even had an additional role after the bank was to be robbed where he was to take the money and take it to a different location.
GRIFFIN: Douglas Sughrue, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong's attorney says there's good reason the U.S. attorney and the FBI want to keep quiet about Jay Stockton.
Do you think he's the one person who got away with this?
SUGHRUE: Oh, yes. He got immunity from the government, absolutely, free and clear. Convicted sex offender, multi times sex-offender. The government felt he was the least involved person and so they gave him immunity.
HEID: They shouldn't of gave him immunity. He didn't deserve immunity. He's the guilty one that killed my brother. He deserved to be brought to justice.
GRIFFIN: Stockton has been featured on the television show "America's most wanted." Private investigators have tried to track him down, but Stockton has literally vanished. At least, that is what he may have thought, until the day we found him.
These are pictures of Stockton today. Two hours north of Seattle down a side street in Bellingham, Washington, we found Stockton where he told our investigator he's been living in this duplex for the past six years but was soon about to leave.
A week later, we spotted him leaving the duplex in a pickup truck. We followed to an RV sales lot where he was eyeing a large recreational vehicle. It was perhaps the first time in years anyone had mentioned his involvement in the pizza bomb case.
How you doing, Mr. Stockton, right? Drew Griffin. I'm with CNN. How you doing? It's taken a long time for me to find you. I wanted to ask you some questions. No, sir. Brian Wells' family is really want to know about you, sir. Please.
GRIFFIN: As fast as he could with his driver's side window lowered, Jay Stockton sped away not saying a word.
Mr. Stockton, this is Drew Griffin again with CNN. Brian Wells' family is really just trying to get to the truth of the matter about particularly their brother. You're the only one alive and sane enough to tell the truth and that's what they're after.
He has refused all of our phone calls, refused to respond to notes placed at his door. The assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case insists to us Jay Stockton would tell us what the federal government has proven in court, that Brian Wells was involved with the bank robbery.
MARSHALL PICCINNI, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA: No one could have sat through this criminal trial without understanding the degree of evidence linking Mr. Wells to these particular participants.
GRIFFIN: In fact, the same affidavit that implicates Stockton repeatedly implicates Jean Heid's brother. The suspects involved saying Brian Wells knew the plot all along, was involved in the planning, was part of the band of criminal misfits trying to rob a bank.
Jean Heid will never believe that. She believes her government is lying.
HEID: They let an innocent man, my brother, die while in their custody and they didn't even lift a finger to help him. This case is going to be looked at for years to come. And they don't want it known that they screwed up. Brian never would have done this.
GRIFFIN: But there's convincing evidence that, in fact, he did.
And his cover all along was going to be I was just a pizza delivery guy?
CLARK: I was a hostage. I was forced to do this.
GRIFFIN: Ahead, what really happened to Brian Wells on that August morning.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rosa Flores in New York.
Some brand new details tonight on the two American forces special operations that went after terrorist targets in Africa. We start in Somalia. U.S. Navy SEALS had a mission to get one man, a commander of al-Shabaab forces linked to the 1998 bombings of American embassies in east Africa. Tonight, we learned the target's name. A senior Obama administration official says he's a Kenyan named Ikrima. The SEAL raid did not go as planned, however. U.S. forces were forced to retreat. Now, at about the same time, U.S. army commandos entered Libya and captured this man Abu Anas al-Libi, an accused al-Qaeda operative. Now, he was on the FBI's list of the world's most wanted terrorists with the $5 million bounty. Now, tonight, he's in U.S. custody and we're told he's being questioned on a U.S. Navy warship.
Al-Libi's wife talked to CNN earlier today. She said at least ten men ambushed her husband and quickly took him away. Al-Libi is also linked to the U.S. embassy bombings 15 years ago. Wand we should add that more than 200 people died in those explosions.
No solution in sight for the partial government shutdown. House speaker John Boehner continues to say he wants President Obama to negotiate with congressional Republicans. Boehner says a clean spending bill without any concessions on Obamacare funding has no chance of passing the house. Democrats, however, say just put a clean bill to a vote and let's see what happens.
Race car driver Dario Franchitti was injured in a crash this afternoon in Houston. He was taken to the hospital and treated for a concussion and a fracture to his spine and right ankle. He's listed in fair condition. Thirteen spectators were also hurt by debris flying into the stands. Only three of them went into the hospital and their injuries were described as minor.
I'm Rosa Flores. Those are the headlines for this hour keeping you informed right here on CNN, the most trusted name in news.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): There was a single driving motivation for the bank robbery that ultimately claimed Brian Wells' life, money. Money desperately needed by the woman at the center of the scheme, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. And for the first time, the FBI's lead investigator can talk about it.
CLARK: Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong knew that her father had a large amount of money, an inheritance that she wanted and she wanted now.
GRIFFIN: Jerry Clark was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, and became the FBI's man in charge immediately after the robbery. Armstrong, he says, believed that inheritance was worth $1.8 million.
CLARK: And in order to get that, she had to figure out a way to have him killed. The amount that it would take to have her father killed was an amount that they needed to rob a bank for.
GRIFFIN: Which in itself is one of the most bizarre motivations you could find, you had to steal money to use money to pay somebody to kill somebody.
CLARK: Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong had talked to Ken Barnes about killing her father. He wanted a significant amount down in order to do it. And they thought where are we going to get this kind of money? Let's rob a bank. GRIFFIN: If all of that sounds bizarre, a cast of characters out of the gang who couldn't shoot straight, to Jerry Clark it made a perverted kind of sense especially when it came to Ken Barnes, someone with a long record of drug abuse who was supposed to be the trigger man.
CLARK: If you work law enforcement long enough, you will come across people who will do the most bizarre things you could ever think of that sounds very legitimate and very realistic to them that is really and actually a very bad scheme.
ED PALATELLA, INVESTIGATIVE RECORDER, ERIE TIMES-NEWS: We also believe that in some respects this was Rothstein's final hoorah. He knew he was dying of cancer. He was manipulative. He was diabolical. And this gave him the money angle, very well might have given him a reason to carry out this crazy plot.
GRIFFIN: Jerry Clark says he wanted to talk with CNN when we first began reporting this story. His bosses in Washington prevented that, he says. Now he is retired and has co-written a book about the robbery with Erie reporter Ed Pallattella. Brian Wells, Clark says, was in on the planning from the get go.
CLARK: Mr. Wells had an association with these people, had met them in the past, had attended pre-planning meetings, and had some initial involvement in the scheme to rob the bank.
GRIFFIN: But he was double crossed. In one of the early meetings of the gang he was shown a fake bomb, one with wires but no real heft. On the morning of the robbery, Brian Wells was fitted with a live bomb by Floyd Stockton, the conspirator who was never formally charged.
PALATELLA: He shows up that day, they come out with this bomb and put it on his neck. It's heavier than it was the day before and this one's live. Then he tried to back out, but it's too late.
GRIFFIN: So, in the planning stages, Brian believed that he was going to be the guy who would wear the fake bomb, who would walk in, who would get the money, and his cover all along was going to be I was just a pizza delivery guy?
CLARK: I was a hostage. I was forced to do this. So if he's caught anywhere in that plan, he could notify or let authorities know he was a hostage and there was no problem.
GRIFFIN: Inside the bank, Clark says Brian Wells may have known his bomb was live, but he didn't act like it.
CLARK: He's still very cavalier. He's walking very casually. So I'm not sure at what point he realizes it's actually real. I think he thinks it could be, but I'm not sure exactly when he really believes that it's a live device.
GRIFFIN: Once outside the bank, all of the gang is watching and waiting.
Is Rothstein watching?
CLARK: Absolutely. Rothstein's on scene watching. Marjorie Diehl- Armstrong, Ken Barnes are in a location watching with binoculars. And they were definitely there making sure he followed through with what he was supposed to.
GRIFFIN: And they see him blow up. What's the reaction of this gang?
PALATELLA: When the evidence was they had a meeting afterwards and she was very upset that her money wasn't there.
GRIFFIN: Even if they had recovered the money, Clark says, it wasn't nearly enough for what Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong needed, $250,000 to kill her own father.
I can't ever recall a holdup bank robbery getting much more than a few thousand bucks.
GRIFFIN: I mean, who thought you could walk into a bank and come out with 250 grand?
CLARK: That's the absolute absurdity of the whole thing, quite honestly. You're going to get teller drawer money and that's in the thousands. So, to think that you're going to reach a $250,000 haul was just never very plausible. And when he walked out of that bank with 8,000-some-odd-dollars, it was far short of the amount they were going to require anyway.
GRIFFIN: And what on earth could have convinced them they could get away with such a bizarre scheme in the first place? Ed Pallattella has covered the story for more than ten years.
PALATELLA: One motivation is money. One is motivation solely to carry out this plan to kill someone. And once you try to start to figure out why they would do this, this group of misfits, you have to remember they're -- she's mentally ill, Rothstein's irrational, Barnes has got his brain fried from drugs over the years. Wells, while certainly not mentally deficient, he is not exactly the most nimble thinker.
GRIFFIN: For Jerry Clark, the key to unraveling the story began with William Rothstein.
CLARK: He thought he was smarter than everybody else. Specifically law enforcement.
GRIFFIN: Next, agent Jerry Clark meets the man with the body in his freezer for the very first time.
CLARK: I walk in, I say hi. Jerry Clark from the FBI. Can we chat? And he said I need to tell you one thing. I said what's that? He said I'm the smartest guy this room.
(END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GRIFFIN (voice-over): If there's such a thing as an ordinary bank robbery, what happened in Erie, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 2003 wasn't it.
This has been called one of the most intricate, odd bank robbery schemes in the history of the FBI. You believe that?
CLARK: Without question. This has to be one of the most unique bank robbery cases ever in the history of the FBI. And you can tell that by the FBI's elevation of this case to major case status. This case was immediately elevated to major case number 203. It has really been the first time in the history of the FBI that a bank robbery was elevated to a major case level.
GRIFFIN: Look at this cast of characters. Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong who need bank robbery money to pay a man to kill her father so she could inherit $1.8 million. It was Marjorie who convinced her friend Bill Rothstein to hide her boyfriend's dead body in his freezer. Their friend Kenneth Barnes, an admitted drug addict who wanted a slice of any money he could get from the robbery in order to carry out the hit on Marjorie's father. Then there was Brian Wells, a life-long pizza delivery man who according to his sister liked nothing better than to spend hours watching movies on video.
CLARK: Fractured intellectuals as they described themselves were a group of people who all had the like mindedness that couldn't get along socially with others in the community, and they sort of banded together. But as much as they felt like they liked each other, they didn't trust each other.
GRIFFIN: And then, of course, there was this man. Floyd Stockton, a convicted sex offender who authorities say was part of the scheme.
CLARK: In this instance, the investigators fully believed that we had evidence that showed Mr. Stockton's culpability. His level of culpability was really what became in question. Was he a lesser player? Was he a greater player? That was the issue, but everybody agreed he had involvement. It's just how culpable they felt.
GRIFFIN: So how did Floyd Stockton escape without spending a single day in prison? His own lawyer told CNN Stockton testified before a grand jury investigating what happened. And until now, the attorney says, he hasn't talked On the Record to anyone about his client.
Everybody who looks at this case looks at the one guy who got away, and that's your client.
CHARBEAU LATOUF, FLOYD STOCKTON'S ATTORNEY: I wouldn't say my guy got away. My guy cooperated with the United States attorney's office. And for that cooperation, he was rewarded as such.
GRIFFIN: Immunity. LATOUF: Basically.
PALATTELIA: He won't even acknowledge that there was a deal. The U.S. attorney's office wouldn't even acknowledge -- that's just their policy -- a deal. Remember, he was all set to testify. He was all ready to go and then he has a heart attack right in the middle of this trial and he can't testify.
LATOUF: I put forward a petition to restrict him from having to travel from Washington to Erie, Pennsylvania, because he was extremely ill.
GRIFFIN: It turns out the federal government didn't need Stockton. Even without his testimony, at age 61, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong was convicted and sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison for her role in the robbery and subsequent killing of Brian Wells. Her attorney then was Douglas Sughrue.
SUGHRUE: Marjorie isn't someone you'd want to conspire with. She can't be trusted. She wanted to achieve her own goals and she will say what she needed to say in order to accomplish that.
GRIFFIN: A federal government court denied her appeal and she fired Doug Sughrue. She is representing herself now from prison. Bill Rothstein who led authorities through his house and garage and showed them the frozen body of Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong's former lover, Jim Roden, Rothstein died of cancer, not long after taking police on this bizarre tour. Until the end, Jerry Clark says Rothstein seemed arrogant and almost proud of what he had done.
CLARK: The day he turns in Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, he sits down. I walk in and say, hi, Jerry Clark from FBI. Bill, can we chat? And he said I need to tell you one thing. And I said, what's that? And he said, I'm the smartest guy in this room. And I looked around and it was only me. I said well, you know, I'm fine with that, Bill. Let's have a conversation.
He thought he was smarter than everybody else, specifically law enforcement. So everything that he did, he did with an intention to out-wit or out-smart. He would take something, figure out a way to make it as sinister as possible. And he had a side to him that was so deep and dark, and he would do things just like this. He would get in his workshop and, you know, plan and scheme.
GRIFFIN: Clark won't directly criticize federal prosecutors for failing to charge Stockton, but he does say the investigation determined Floyd Stockton was heavily involved in the plan. Conspired and helped carry out the bank robbery that led to Brian Wells' death.
Jerry, he was there before, during, and after and all of this by his own admission. He put the bomb on the guy's neck.
CLARK: Exactly. And that's all the information that I and the investigative team developed. So for us to present that, we felt very strongly that it was solid. But, you know, for whatever reason, it was determined that he would not be charged. And again, I can't question that. I can only do what is my job and bring the evidence ahead and forward. What happens after that becomes out of my control, really.
GRIFFIN: I know you don't want to maybe say your client got away with it, but he certainly got -- for what we know that we believe that he did in this crime, actually put the bomb around Brian Wells' neck on the morning of the robbery, all the other defendants in this case got huge prison terms and your client is basically free.
LATOUF: Well, rightfully so. Those people should have gotten huge prison terms. The United States government did what they should have done and went after these individuals. Fortunately for my client and as a defense attorney, I think all defense attorneys would act the way I did in this case. You try to get the best deal for your client. And in this case, we know what the best deal was.
GRIFFIN: A pretty good deal.
LATOUF: Very good deal.
GRIFFIN: As for Brian Wells, his sister told us she still believes her brother was a victim, not a conspirator. And she'll believe that, she says, until her dying day.
HEID: And they don't want it known that they screwed up. They want it known that he was a poor man. He wanted money. They wanted it involved him.
No, Brian was never materialistic. He never was greedy. He never would have done this.
COOPER: Welcome back. There still may be more that has not yet surfaced about the so-called pizza bomber case. For one point, Floyd Stockton could have more to say about his role in the conspiracy if he ever talks. Stockton, his lawyer told us, is still living at an undisclosed location in Washington State. He is still registered as a sex offender and he, more than anyone, could shed more light on the most bizarre bank robbery ever investigated by the FBI.
And one more thing -- the rights, the book, about the robbery by Jerry Clark and Ed Palatella, have been sold to Hollywood.
I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching.