LAS VEGAS – A woman accused in a multimillion-dollar armored truck heist surrendered Thursday after more than 10 years on the run.
Heather Catherine Tallchief (search) is accused of driving an armored truck loaded with cash away from the Circus Circus casino in October 1993. Speaking to reporters before she gave herself up, Tallchief acknowledged her role.
"I truly feel this is the right thing to do," Tallchief said. Her lawyer said her boyfriend, also accused in the heist, "brainwashed" her into participating.
Attorney Robert Axelrod (search), her lawyer, was with Tallchief when she surrendered at U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. He said she was tired of hiding, and wanted her 10-year-old son to have a chance at living a normal life.
Tallchief was one of several dozen fugitives listed under a heading of "most wanted" on the FBI's Web site, but was not on its well-known Top 10 Most Wanted list. Joe Parris, an FBI supervisory special agent in Washington, said Tallchief had never made that short list, though he said she was a "highly sought" fugitive.
Axelrod said Tallchief was an impressionable 21-year-old who blindly followed a persuasive older boyfriend in the Oct. 1, 1993, theft, her lawyer said. The boyfriend, Roberto Solis (search), is now 60 and is still a fugitive.
Federal warrants were issued in February 1994 for Tallchief and Solis on charges including bank larceny, conspiracy, fraud and flight to avoid prosecution. Authorities in 1993 said the car contained $3.1 million, but the federal complaint the following year listed the amount stolen as $2.5 million.
Tallchief maintained she was only following Solis' instructions and doesn't know where Solis is now, although they have a son together.
"He brainwashed her, as surely as a Manson kind of character (or) a Jim Jones kind of character," Axelrod said.
Tallchief eluded authorities by living under an assumed name and working as a maid and at other cash jobs in Amsterdam, Netherlands, her lawyer said. She said she told her son earlier this week "to practice his guitar, have fun at his sporting club, do his homework, and I'll see you soon."
Police said Tallchief was employed for several months as a driver for Loomis Armored Inc. before she disappeared with a truck loaded with $100 and $20 bills while co-workers filled automatic teller machines inside the casino.
Mark Clark, spokesman for Loomis Armored successor Loomis Fargo & Co. of Houston, said he welcomed Tallchief's surrender, but said the company wants the missing money.
"I don't suppose she turned the money in when she turned herself in," Clark said.