'Billboard' bank robbery suspect nabbed - KMOV.com

'Billboard' bank robbery suspect nabbed

KINGDOM CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A man suspected of robbing 14 banks in six states has been captured in Missouri after a former state trooper recognized him from media reports, authorities said.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said in a news release Sunday that Chad E. Schaffner was arrested Saturday at a motel in the small town of Kingdom City, about 25 miles east of Columbia.

The 37-year-old Indianapolis man was wanted on felony warrants for bank robbery, burglary, armed robbery and receiving stolen property. He is suspected of robbing banks in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

Sgt. Paul Reinsch of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the former trooper is from the St. Louis area and had seen the suspect's picture on the evening news after a bank robbery in nearby Caseyville, Ill. He also had seen the suspect profiled on the television show "America's Most Wanted."

Reinsch said the former trooper recognized the suspect at a restaurant in Kingdom City and went to the "America's Most Wanted" Web site, which included a list of vehicles that the suspect might be driving. A 1996 Chrysler Concorde with Tennessee plates, found in the restaurant's parking lot, was one of the listed vehicles.

"Serial bank robbers are very rare and especially to locate them the way they did through 'America's Most Wanted' is a unique story," Reinsch said.

Authorities said Schaffner was arrested without incident and is jailed without bond in Callaway County.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Schaffner was expected to appear Monday in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City before being remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshal's Service.

It was not immediately known whether he had an attorney.

The FBI turned to electronic billboards to try to catch the robbery suspect after traditional investigations failed. Agents say the billboards worked: Schaffner was identified as a suspect within 24 hours of bank surveillance photos popping up on wall-size electronic highway signs in eight states.

Schaffner was released from an Indiana prison in December after serving time for armed robbery, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Tennessee to support an arrest warrant.

In each of the recent cases, authorities say Schaffner entered the bank, waved a handgun and threatened to use it. He demanded money then fled. He sometimes wore a red baseball cap but never tried to hide his face, which officials said was uncommon.

The FBI-posted picture has appeared on electronic billboards in Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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