Man seeks remains of woman convicted in collar-bomb killing

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — A man claiming to be the common-law husband of a woman convicted in a bizarre Pennsylvania bank robbery plot that killed a pizza delivery driver with a bomb locked to his neck wants federal prison officials to confirm her death and to release her remains.

The Bureau of Prisons has said 68-year-old Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong died April 4 of natural causes at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell, a 1,400-inmate medical facility for females in Fort Worth, Texas.

Diehl-Armstrong was serving life plus 30 years in the 2003 Erie bank robbery plot that ended with the death of 46-year-old pizza deliveryman Brian Wells. He had been forced to rob a bank while wearing the metal collar bomb that exploded afterward as he sat, handcuffed, in a parking lot while police and the FBI waited for a bomb squad.

Mark Marvin, of Walden, New York, told the Erie Times-News on Monday that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons hasn’t cooperated with helping him locate Diehl-Armstrong’s remains — or even confirming to his satisfaction that she’s dead.

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“It is certainly reasonable to believe she died,” Marvin said. “But I don’t have any confirmation of that.”

If she is indeed dead, he wants to move her remains to a Quaker cemetery near Poughkeepsie, New York.

“I am just pursuing her interests,” Marvin told the newspaper. “She insisted she is not guilty.”

Marvin said he met Diehl-Armstrong by mail while he was corresponding with her fellow inmates and helping them with legal issues, though he’s not an attorney.

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A Bureau of Prisons spokesman was investigating Marvin’s request Tuesday, but didn’t immediately comment.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh, which oversees the satellite office in Erie where Diehl-Armstrong was convicted, also declined to comment. They must file a response to Marvin’s petition.

Wells’ death remained a mystery until Diehl-Armstrong and her fishing buddy Kenneth Barnes were indicted in 2007 on charges they concocted the plot along with her ex-boyfriend William Rothstein, who by then had died of cancer.

Barnes later pleaded guilty and testified against Diehl-Armstrong. Federal prosecutors said Rothstein, a retired high school shop teacher, made the bomb collar using two egg timers provided by Diehl-Armstrong. They said he ordered the pizzas that lured Wells to a dead-end road where Wells was fitted with the device and given handwritten instructions on how to rob the bank and disarm the bomb.

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Prosecutors contend Wells was in on the plot but was fooled into believing the collar bomb would be a decoy. His family disputes that and maintains he was a hostage.