EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 7, 2014

Alleged robber held without bail

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — Several police officers in Seabrook, N.H. were able to identify a suspect in the New Year’s Eve robbery of the TD Bank in downtown Haverhill, according to police in Haverhill.

Officers in that New Hampshire town identified 27-year-old Leo Willwerth as a suspect in the robbery after receiving bank surveillance photos from Haverhill police investigators.

In addition to being a suspect in the robbery of the TD Bank, Willwerth allegedly made a fraudulent return at the Walmart in Seabrook on Dec. 3, when he was captured on store surveillance video wearing the same American Eagle hoodie that he wore when he allegedly robbed the TD Bank, according to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court.

Willwerth was arraigned yesterday on charges of armed robbery and making a false bomb threat. Judge Patricia Dowling ordered him held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing set for Jan. 13.

According to a police report, a Seabrook police sergeant along with several other Seabrook officers told Haverhill police that they recognized Willwerth from their many dealings with him and that he is a “known heroin addict” in their community.

Police allege that on Dec. 31, just before 5 p.m., closing time, Willwerth walked into the TD Bank at 153 Merrimack St. in Haverhill, acting like a customer, then handed a teller a deposit slip with instructions written on it.

According to a police report, Willwerth’s note read “Do not panic, we have a bomb, I got a gun, empty your draw, no dyepacks, no trackers,” and “safely call the cops when I exit.”

The suspect was handed $860 in cash then left the bank on foot. Police said Willwerth did not display a weapon or a bomb during the robbery. The robbery was reported to police at about 5:03 p.m.

Police subsequently released video surveillance photos of the suspect, who they described as tall and thin — about 6-feet tall, weighing 180 to 200 pounds. He was last seen in khaki pants and a blue American Eagle hoodie. A police booking report noted Willwerth’s height as 6-feet, 4-inches and his weight as 180 pounds.

Less than 48 hours after the robbery, the Haverhill Police Detective Unit was granted an arrest warrant for Willwerth, of 14 Linda Lane, Seabrook, after officers in that town identified him as a suspect.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., the Seabrook, N.H. Police Department assisted Haverhill police detectives and arrested Willwerth at his family home in Seabrook.

Police said Willwerth was extradited to Massachusetts yesterday for his arraignment on the charges.

Haverhill police spokesman Lt. Robert Pistone said the Detective Division worked nonstop on this case and through a collaborative effort with other law enforcement agencies, especially the Seabrook Police Department, the suspect was arrested.

Armed robbery carries a maximum penalty of life in state prison and making a bomb threat carries a maximum of 20 years in state prison, police said.

The New Year’s Eve robbery was the third bank robbery in Haverhill over the past two months.

“In all three robberies the suspect has been apprehended in a matter of days through old fashioned hard work, the utilization of the advanced training, technology, and all available resources, which is a credit to the hard work and dedication of members of the Haverhill Police Department,” Pistone said.