Possible break in rash of NE Oklahoma bank robberies

Thursday, July 17th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

One of the bank robbers, who have been hitting banks all over Green Country, may be in custody.

She was arrested in Topeka, Kansas on Friday right after a bank robbery there. News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains how this arrest might affect the Oklahoma cases.

The break in this case may have come because of a sprained ankle. Topeka Police say while making their get-away, one of the robbers tripped and twisted her ankle and that's why police were able to nab her. 34-year-old Laverna Johnson is a Tulsa woman who's been in and out of Oklahoma prisons since 1992 for larceny, forgery, drugs and escape. She was just released on April 24th. It was just two weeks later when police believe a band of robbers began hitting small businesses and banks in Tulsa, Henryetta, Beggs, Checotah, Okmulgee and Caney, Kansas.

Just like in the previous robberies, the one in Topeka involved three people who used some type of disguise, two of them pointed weapons while the third got the cash and they left in a car that had been stolen earlier from a nearby grocery store. Police suspect these robbers have hit 15 times now since May 5th.

The detective working the Tulsa cases told me Johnson is talking, but she's not being very cooperative and they don't think she's telling the truth.

The US Attorney in Kansas said Johnson was indicted late Thursday afternoon for robbing the Heritage Bank in Topeka and carrying a handgun, which may make her more cooperative, if she's part of this group.