This article appeared in our December 2004 issue.
Two stories happened in the same town: mine. In the first, a local man of limited mental capacity robbed a bank. Most shocking was that he had a live bomb attached to his body by a metal collar that somebody had locked around his neck. He was carrying a note written by his assailants ordering him to report to four different places after the robbery to receive instructions about what next to do in order to have the bomb defused.
He never made it past stop number one. Police intercepted this simple man in a parking lot almost immediately after he left the bank. He clearly was not racing to escape. Instead, he was begging for help. He told the police that he’d been forced to perform the robbery because the bomb locked to his neck was on a timer. But the local bomb squad didn’t reach the site fast enough to defuse it, so, in clear sight, this man blew up in a main street parking lot of a small American city on a sunny afternoon in the middle of summer.
This 46-year-old man lived, we learned later, in a tiny house alone with his cats. He earned very li …