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Brian Douglas Wells

American murder victim

Died when: 46 years 286 days
Star Sign: Scorpio

Brian Douglas Wells (November 15, 1956 – August 28, 2003) was an American pizza delivery man who was murdered during a complex plot involving a bank robbery, scavenger hunt, and homemade explosive device near his hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. Following an attempt to rob a PNC Bank, and while surrounded by police, Wells was murdered when an explosive collar locked to his neck detonated. It is known as the "collar bomb" or "pizza bomber" case. The incident was shown live on television. Wells' involvement in the plot is a matter of controversy. Investigators concluded and a federal prosecutor's indictment alleged Wells was a knowing participant in the bank robbery but was told the bomb was fake and did not know his co-conspirators intended for him to die. Wells' family said he was not a willing participant in the incident. The multiple aspects of the crime meant the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) led an investigative task force in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). It is the only crime of its kind; CNN described it as "one of the most complicated and bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI". The incident has gained extensive coverage in mass media, including the Netflix series Evil Genius. It demonstrated just how poorly the FBI, ATF, and the PA State Police handled what is quite possibly the most incompetent investigation ever conducted of a Federal crime. At one point, with no evidence, authorities went so far as to blame the victim (whom they had also decapitated). Had investigative reporters not become involved, and others involved in the crime not come forward, it would more than likely remain unsolved. A federal grand jury indicted Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong and Kenneth Barnes on charges of bank robbery, conspiracy, and weapons charges. Fellow co-conspirator William "Bill" Rothstein had died and his roommate Floyd Stockton was given immunity from prosecution so he could testify against Diehl-Armstrong. In 2008, U.S. District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin sentenced Barnes to 45 years in federal prison. Two years later, Diehl-Armstrong was sentenced to life in prison.
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