EVERETT — A serial bank robber was caught in Everett last week thanks to one of the tellers he robbed.
Christian N. Franzwa, 57, allegedly aimed what turned out to be a pellet gun at the woman during a holdup in June. She described it to police as a “black semi-automatic handgun.”
In December, the teller was shopping at the Casino Road Fred Meyer and recognized the man in the store. She alerted authorities. With the help of Fred Meyer, detectives determined Franzwa had used a food-stamp card. That led to his identity.
They’ve been following him around ever since, according to an arrest report.
Police say Franzwa is “Beardo,” the bandit responsible for seven bank robberies in Everett over the past eight months. The name came from the robber’s use of a fake beard as part of his elaborate disguise.
Franzwa was being held Tuesday at the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of seven counts of first-degree robbery. Bail was set over the weekend at $750,000.
Franzwa didn’t speak during a brief hearing Tuesday in Everett District Court. Prosecutors unsuccessfully asked for bail to be increased to $1 million, saying Franzwa had “a high likelihood of flight and (is) a significant risk to public safety.”
Court records show that Franzwa was sued last year as part of an eviction from an Everett-area apartment. He was ordered to pay more than $2,300 in restitution. Franzwa told a judge at the time he was behind on rent because of an emergency appendectomy.
He later moved to W. Casino Road. Police allege that he made more than $32,300 from the robberies, and that some of the money likely went toward rent. However, Franzwa still got into trouble with his landlord for being late with rent in August and December, records show.
Before making the arrest, detectives got hold of surveillance video from Party Display and Costume along Evergreen Way that reportedly showed Franzwa buying a fake beard and a fake mustache in June. Beardo also donned a distinctive nose covering during the holdups.
The nose covering is a sun shield, often used in snow sports, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said.
In all, Beardo had seven robberies at five banks, most recently on Dec. 23. Columbia Bank was hit three times. In each of those holdups he accosted the same teller. She is who later spotted Beardo at the store and alerted police.
Franzwa would demand large bills and “no dye packs,” according to police. In one case he told tellers, “Just give me all of the money and no one gets hurts.” In another robbery, he went behind the counter to rummage through the drawers himself. He sometimes would imply he had a gun in his jacket and order people to keep their hands in the air.
Beardo used a bicycle, a van, a police scanner and a flip phone as part of his getaway plans.
On Feb. 10, a team of Everett police and FBI agents keeping an eye on Franzwa reportedly saw him switching license plates on his car. He drove from his home to a Banner Bank south of the city. That bank had been robbed by Beardo in July. Last week, detectives observed Franzwa watching the bank with binoculars.
Two days later, on Friday, police again followed him from his home to a Banner Bank.
Franzwa was “detained prior to committing an eighth robbery,” according to the arrest report. He allegedly was wearing the beard disguise and had a pellet gun in his car.
According to court documents, Franzwa has nine felony convictions in Washington. He also had a warrant for his arrest in the theft of a $1,300 guitar from a store.
When applying for the apartment on Casino Road, Franzwa said he worked for a mattress store in Marysville. Investigators later learned he was fired from the mattress store for stealing cash and inventory in late 2014.
There was no record in a state employment database of him having a job in 2015.
When officers caught up with him on Friday, he reportedly ripped off the fake beard and threw it on the ground. His fake mustache was only partially torn off.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.