Lynnwood bank robbery suspect caught in Thailand

LYNNWOOD — The woman dubbed the “Ponytail Bandit” by police will have to groom her locks in jail.

The young woman, wanted by the FBI on suspicion of robberies at a Lynnwood bank and two others, was arrested Wednesday in Thailand.

Morgan Michelle Hoke, 21, was arrested at a Bangkok hotel by Royal Thai Police after a tip from the FBI.

Investigators think Hoke is the person who used a threatening note to demand money from a teller during a robbery last May at First Heritage Bank, 19009 33rd Ave. W., in Lynnwood, FBI special agent Larry Carr said.

A woman with a matching description, wearing casual clothes with her hair pulled back in a ponytail beneath a ball cap, is suspected of robbing banks on May 7 in Austin, Texas, and May 23 in Roseville, Calif.

Police in Texas issued a warrant for Hoke’s arrest in connection with the robbery there. That’s what gave Thai officials authority to nab her, said Robbie Burroughs, an FBI spokeswoman in Seattle.

Hoke is expected to be handed over to American authorities Thursday and then extradited to the United States, Thai police Maj. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri and U.S. Embassy officials said.

Investigators are still trying to apprehend Hoke’s husband, Stuart Michael Romine, 26. He’s believed to be in Vietnam, Burroughs said.

FBI officials believed Hoke worked with an accomplice.

“It would be rare that a young woman would be traveling the country all by herself,” Carr said.

Hoke likely will face additional bank robbery charges once she is returned to the U.S., Burroughs said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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