Lumberton police Detective Steve Sutton said a description provided by the manager of the First South branch in Lumberton matches that of James Huber, 40, of Westminster, Colo. The First South employee, Ann Chaney, and her husband were held hostage during that bank robbery.
Huber faces federal charges after he attempted to kidnap a TierOne Bank branch manager in Lincoln, Neb., according to published reports. Police say Huber waited outside a pizza restaurant for the bank manager and, when she appeared, Huber showed her a handgun in his waistband and attempted to abduct her.
But the branch manager reportedly faked a heart attack and scared Huber off. He was caught shortly afterward by police when witnesses called 911.
Sutton said Huber is wanted for the Oct. 25, 2002, robbery of the First South branch. Huber has reportedly been linked to six similar bank robberies - spread out across North Carolina, Nebraska and Colorado - that have occurred during the past three years.
According to Lumberton police reports, the gunman in the Lumberton bank robbery held Chaney and her husband hostage at their home overnight. The next morning, he forced Chaney open the bank before its scheduled opening so that he could rob it.
The gunman forced Chaney to carry a "bomb" into the bank and told her he had planted bombs at Lumberton High School and Southeastern Regional Medical Center, apparently to divert Lumberton police. No bombs were found at the school or hospital, but the device found inside the bank, which was believed to be fake, was exploded as a precaution.
Neither Chaney nor her husband Robert, who was tied up and left at his home, were hurt.
"The Lincoln, Neb., Police Department faxed me a 28-page interview with him last night and, based on the statements he made, there is no doubt that it's him," Sutton said. "He had information that no one other than the bank robber would have had."
Police say Huber is known as the "Bogus Bomb Bandit."
Sutton went to First South Bank on Thursday to give Chaney the news.
"She was relieved," Sutton said. "She got a little emotional. It was a traumatic event for her and her husband. You could see the relief on her face."
Chaney, reached this morning at First South, said she had not yet been given the chance to identify Huber. She said she didn't want to comment further until she has spoken with the FBI.
No money from the Lumberton robbery has been recovered, Sutton said. Investigators have declined to say how much money was stolen.
Sutton said if Huber is charged with the robberies in North Carolina and Colorado, he could be returned to those states for trials. But if Huber agrees to a plea deal, the cases could be consolidated and handled by Nebraska prosecutors.
"I don't think there will be a trial here," Sutton said. "But you never know. I am just tickled to death that he was caught, because we didn't think we would ever find him."