News and Press Releases

Arkansas man indicted for two armed bank robberies

March 1, 2011

            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Fort Smith, Ark., man was indicted by a federal grand jury today for two armed bank robberies in Springfield, Mo., and Joplin, Mo.

            Robert Bruce Knepper, 45, of Fort Smith, was charged in a four-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield. Today’s indictment replaces a criminal complaint that was filed against Knepper on Feb. 17, 2011, and adds additional charges.

Today’s indictment alleges that Knepper robbed Liberty Bank in Springfield on March 29, 2010. The indictment also alleges that Knepper robbed Great Southern Bank in Joplin on Sept. 16, 2010.

Knepper is also charged with two counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of the bank robberies. Knepper allegedly used a .45-caliber handgun to rob Liberty Bank and a Springfield Armory 9mm handgun to rob Great Southern Bank.

            According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint, Knepper stole $80,000 from Liberty Bank and $404,350 from Great Southern Bank.

            The affidavit alleges that Knepper entered Liberty Bank, 210 N. W. Bypass, Springfield, at approximately 4:45 p.m. on March 29, 2010. He allegedly presented a note to a bank employee and demanded the bank manager give him cash from the bank’s vault. Knepper, who allegedly carried a handgun in a shoulder holster, threatened several times to kill everyone in the bank, the affidavit says.

            The manager placed $80,000 from the bank vault into a bank bag and gave the bag to Knepper, the affidavit says. Knepper allegedly took the keys to the bank manager’s vehicle and fled in the manager’s car, which was abandoned about a mile away from the bank.

According to the affidavit, Knepper entered Great Southern Bank, 1232 S. Range Line Rd., Joplin, at 5 p.m. on Sept. 16, 2010. Knepper allegedly brandished a handgun, climbed over the teller counter and ordered the bank employees to the floor. He then ordered the tellers to open the bank vault, the affidavit says, and placed money from the vault in a soft shell cooler. He allegedly removed money from some of the teller drawers as well, stealing a total of $404,350.

            On Feb. 13, 2011, a bag containing a handgun was found at a Red Lobster restaurant in Fort Smith. Police officers also found $166,000 in the bag, along with various hotel and car rental receipts. The receipts led officers to Knepper, who was staying at a Comfort Inn in Fort Smith, and he was arrested.

            Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn L. McKee. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department and the Fort Smith, Ark., Police Department.

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