The Weird Story of a Cup That Led Cops to Robbery Suspect

Homeowner found it in trash bin instead of recycling bin
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2017 2:14 PM CST
How a Wrongly-Discarded Cup Led Cops to Robbery Suspect
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / jayfish)

A paper coffee cup that should have been in a home's recycling bin was instead in its trash basket—and that seemingly minor point ended up unraveling a bank robbery case in Woodstock, Vt. Valley News has the complicated story, which began on Jan. 4, 2016, when a man handed a bank teller at People's United a threatening note and left with around $3,000 in cash. An hour and a half later, Gail Dougherty, who lives near the bank, found the aforementioned coffee cup. Before moving it to its appropriate place in the recycling bin, she removed the lid to check if there was liquid in the cup—and found a piece of paper reading, "THIS IS A ROBBERY GIVE ME THE MONEY QUIETLY AND NO ONE WILL GET HURT." She called police and told them that she hadn't been home at the time of the robbery, but her house was being cleaned at the time.

When Dougherty got back home from talking to police, she found black gloves and a ski mask sitting out on a table—clothing that did belong to the family, but that neither she nor her husband had taken out. Police said it was similar to clothing worn by the bank robber. The same day, she also discovered that money and jewelry were missing from the home. She told police she suspected the cleaning lady, 43-year-old Heather Wheeler, who had been cleaning her home for about 16 years, and Wheeler's boyfriend, "Adam," who often came along with Wheeler to cleanings. Now 28-year-old Adam Kniffin has been arrested on charges related to the bank robbery and the thefts from Dougherty's home. Woodstock police say Kniffin or an accomplice apparently wrote and then discarded a "practice note," which Dougherty found. Police may still seek charges against Wheeler. (More weird crimes stories.)

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