AUBURN – The man who robbed a Lewiston bank three weeks ago then crashed and abandoned his getaway car had bought it that morning through a classified ad in a local publication, police said.
Michael Hehir, 21, of Portsmouth, N.H., apparently bought the 1982 American Eagle hours before the robbery using a disposable cell phone and an alias. When he went to pick it up at the home of the Wells man who had sold it through the ad, Hehir couldn’t get it started. He had to use jumper cables to turn over the car’s engine, according to a police affidavit filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court.
Later that day, after allegedly robbing the Sabattus Street branch of Bank of America, he crashed the car into a nearby residence. Then, he hopped into a tan or gold SUV to make his successful getaway.
That car turned out to belong to Enterprise Rent-A-Car on loan to a Portsmouth woman. She told police she had rented the Nissan Armada for Richard Hamilton, 33, of Lee who was later arrested in connection with the robberies.
On April 25, Hamilton told the woman he was going with “Mike” to Maine that day to do some business. When he returned at 6 p.m. he told her “things did not go as planned. Mike robbed a bank,” according to court records. He then gave her $1,000 in cash.
Police said the bank was robbed that day at 4 p.m. of $6,785 in cash. The robber was disguised, wearing a mask, sunglasses and gloves. He went to the teller counter and threw a green fleece bag to one of the tellers, demanding she fill it.
He threw a second bag to another teller. That woman had filled the same type of bag for a man during a robbery three weeks earlier when robbers got away with $3,549, she told police. But, she said, he was a different man.
Police detectives found a bill of sale in the Eagle, tracing it back to its seller in Wells. He told police a man calling himself Keith Zigla called him to buy the car. Police later found the cell phone in the rented Nissan. It showed calls made to several people advertising cars for sale in “Uncle Henry’s Swap or Sell it Guide.”
Police found a security camera at a variety store near the home of the Wells man who sold the Eagle. Video showed the Nissan following the Eagle. Police said they located pictures showing registrations of the two cars as they entered the Wells entrance to the Maine Turnpike.
After Lewiston police issued a “stop and hold” on the Nissan, police in Lee, N.H., noticed it parked in a driveway there. In it, they found the phone, a pair of jumper cables and a receipt dated April 25.
After his arrest, Hehir was arraigned in Androscoggin County Superior Court on a robbery charge. Hamilton is in jail in New Hampshire being held as a fugitive from justice, police there said.