Man who killed himself robbed to pay bills Police say suspect in Frederick bank holdup robbed 2 Howard banks

January 19, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

The death of an alleged bank robber in Frederick a week ago has cleared up two Howard County robberies, according to police, who said Kenneth Anthony Butler, 52, held up two Ellicott City banks to pay his bills.

After his third and final robbery Jan. 12, Butler was confronted by a police officer and killed himself, police said.

According to detectives, Butler wasn't hitting banks to finance a drug habit or extravagant lifestyle -- he was trying to survive after being laid off his job several years ago.

After searching Butler's home last week, detectives found money order receipts for payments of medical and other pressing expenses dated days after a robbery Nov. 14 in Ellicott City.

"He had no criminal record, he wasn't living extravagantly, no assets," said Howard County Detective 1st Class Brook Donovan, who investigated one of the robberies.

After Butler's death, Howard County police linked him to the Ellicott City robberies -- one on July 17 at Key Bank and Trust in the 9400 block of Baltimore National Pike and the other on Nov. 14 at Eastern Savings Bank in the 10000 block of Baltimore National Pike -- after checking surveillance camera photographs taken during those robberies.

Detectives also said that Butler used a dark-colored bag and demanded money verbally in the two robberies, as he did in Frederick.

Butler went back to Eastern Savings Bank Jan. 8. But as he approached, a manager recognized him and locked the doors, police said.

When Butler reached the bank, he walked away, apparently after seeing his picture on a "wanted" flier pasted to the glass, police said.

According to police reports, Butler's final robbery occurred about 11: 15 a.m. last Monday when he entered the Farmers and Mechanics National Bank in the first block of Monocacy Blvd.

He confronted a teller with a black revolver and handed her a black satchel, saying, "Give me the money," according to Lt. Thomas V. Chase of the Frederick City police department.

Butler fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, but a local resident, driving nearby, heard a description of the getaway vehicle over his police scanner.

The resident called police on a cellular phone and followed Butler to the Frederick Square Shopping Center on U.S. 40.

At the shopping center, Officer Edward A. Hanner approached Butler, who had just opened his trunk, and asked to speak with him, Chase said.

Butler walked to the driver's side, saying he needed to get his license, then produced a revolver, police said. Hanner returned to his cruiser while telling Butler to drop his weapon, police said.

Butler pointed his handgun at the officer, who fired two rounds, then two more, Chase said.

A few seconds later, Hanner heard a single shot. He found Butler slumped over and bleeding, police said.

An autopsy determined that Butler had fatally shot himself in the head with a .38-caliber revolver.

Family members did not return repeated phone calls or could not be reached. Phone calls to Butler's neighbors revealed few details about his life.

Butler's next-door neighbor, Michael Crutchfield, 30, said he barely knew the man.

"He robbed banks and is dead?" Crutchfield asked. "He seems too old to do that."

Pub Date: 1/19/98

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