Weber County Jail walkaway arrested for string of bank robberies

Jul 9 2012 - 7:42pm

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Beckstead
Beckstead

The Weber County Jail walkaway arrested last week for robbing banks in Wyoming is also suspected in holdups in Oklahoma, Montana and Ogden.

Joshua Beckstead, 32, failed to return from a May 8 dental furlough from the jail, where he was serving time for forgery. He was charged two days later with escape, a third-degree felony.

He never made it to the appointment he had made from the jail with an Ogden dentist, according to court files. A jail dentist recommended Beckstead have several teeth pulled, but Beckstead asked to see his own dentist to try to salvage them.

Meanwhile, an FBI agent's arrest affidavit describes Beckstead's travels as including the possible holdup of an Ogden bank a week after his dental hijinks.

So far, he is only charged with two holdups and an attempted holdup in Wyoming, charges filed in federal court in Wyoming on July 5 and being heard in North Dakota, where he was arrested.

On June 15, Beckstead walked into the ANB Bank, in Cheyenne, and presented a teller with a note that read "Empty Your Drawer," according to the affidavit of FBI Special Agent David Donati, stationed in Lander, Wyo. The teller complied and the suspect walked out with $2,836.

On June 19, Beckstead went to Sunlight Federal Credit Union in Cody, Wyo., according to the affidavit, handing a teller a similar note.

It was 8:52 a.m. and the teller had no money in her drawer, and the suspect left.

Ninety minutes later, a man matching Beckstead's description walked into First Bank of Wyoming in Cody, again with a note for a teller.

"The witness teller states that printed on the note were words saying something like 'This is a robbery empty your drawer,' " the affidavit reads.

"The witness teller described the subject as nervous because the note the subject held was shaking so badly that it was hard to read the note. The suspect had a toothpick in his mouth and spoke softly to the teller saying 'I'm here to rob you. Give me all your hundreds and fifties.' " He left with $3,350.

Tellers at all three Wyoming banks identified Beckstead from photo lineups, Donati said in the charging documents describing the investigation that included federal and local investigators.

Beckstead is linked by his Ogden cellphone number to a June 9 bank robbery in Maysville, Okla., the number recognized by an unnamed person who unwittingly drove Beckstead to the bank, waiting in the parking lot while the robbery was committed.

The affidavit said Beckstead is recognized later the same day on video surveillance at a nearby Walmart, paying cash for American Express prepaid credit cards that were used to make purchases in Wyoming during the time of the robberies there.

Beckstead is suspected in the May 15 holdup of Weber Credit Union at 975 Washington Blvd. because of the similarities to the other robberies committed since and because of information from a confidential informant, say the court papers, which provide less detail on the Ogden and Montana holdup.

"On June 26, 2012, at approximately 1241 p.m. the Altana Federal Credit Union 8 located at 912 East Pike Avenue, Columbus, Montana was robbed," reads the affidavit's only mention of the Montana case. "Preliminary results of the investigation reveal the subject matches the description of Beckstead."

There is no mention of weapons or threats in the affidavit regarding any of the crimes Beckstead is linked to.

He faces a scheduling conference today before U.S. District Judge Charles Miller in Bismarck, N.D.

The arrest affidavit does not say if photo lineups of Beckstead have been shown to the victims in the Oklahoma, Montana or Ogden holdups. Beckstead is formally charged only in the Wyoming incidents.

Attempts to reach Rich Volk, the assistant United States Attorney in Bismarck assigned to Beckstead's cases, were not successful.

Beckstead still has the escape charge and several forgery charges pending in Ogden's 2nd District Court.

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