(MINNEAPOLIS) - Authorities have now formally charged the suspect in the robbery of an Alexandria credit union in late August. Minneapolis Police announced the arrest of 37 year old William Manuel Villanueva in connection with two bank robberies that occurred in Minneapolis on August 12th at 10:26am at Wells Fargo Bank, 4943 34th Avenue South and on August 24th at 1:14pm at Wells Fargo Bank, 4712 Chicago Avenue South. During the investigation, detectives learned that there were six bank robberies throughout Minnesota and one in Wisconsin, all with the same modus operandi and the same suspect description. Villanueva has been charged with 2 counts of 2nd Degree Aggravated Robbery by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
A criminal complaint lists the additional five robberies to be at a Mid-West One Bank in White Bear Lake on August 19th, a Citizens State Bank in Roberts, WI on August 22nd, a Wells Fargo Bank in St. Anthony, MN and an Associated Bank in North Branch, both on August 26th, and lastly on August 29th the Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union in Alexandria, MN was robbed under similar circumstances. Future charges are anticipated.
In one of the criminal complaints describing the August 12th robbery in Minneapolis, it says officers spoke with a teller and a manager.
The teller reported a man, subsequently identified as Villanueva, approached her station and handed her a demand note that read "$50's + $100's only. No Dye Packs. I have a gun but don't want to use it. GIVE BACK NOTE." Teller reported she informed defendant this would require her manager to assist. The manager reported she came to the station, reviewed the demand note, and handed the man $2569.00 in various denominations. Manager reported she kept the demand note and defendant left the bank with the proceeds. Both the teller and the manager provided a physical description of defendant.
Officers obtained surveillance video from the bank and developed still images. The demand note was collected and processed for latent prints.
In the second criminal complaint, describing the details of the August 24th robbery, also in Minneapolis it describes the officers also speaking with a teller who also identified Villanueva. The teller reported a man came to his station and presented a demand note. The teller read the note which stated: "I have a gun, if you don't give me the money I will hurt someone." The teller reported he began the process of obtaining money. The teller indicated that the defendant then wrote additional language on the note saying, "Quick" and that he "wanted the note back or he would hurt someone." The teller provided the man with $681.00 in US currency and he left the bank with the proceeds. The teller and other bank employees provided a physical description of defendant. Officers also obtained surveillance video from the bank and developed still images.
What Led Up To the Arrest
Officers circulated several still images of the bank robberies to the public. In late August and into early September 2019, officers received multiple calls from family members of Villanueva. These family members indicated they viewed the still images released to the public and identified the person depicted as Villanueva.
Officers obtained a search warrant for a "cell phone dump" looking for commonality of cell phones active in the areas and at the times of the above-listed bank robberies. Two cell phone numbers were identified as being common in place and time to three of the bank robberies. These two cell phone numbers were also found to be communicating with each other around the time of the bank robberies. Officers linked one of the cell phone numbers to Villanueva, as he had used this cell phone number during a prior pawn shop transaction. The other cell phone number was linked to an identified adult female accomplice, who was identified as defendant's girlfriend.
Officers learned accomplice is the registered owner of a 2014 Ford Fusion, MN License Plate 748-WRN. Officers issued a KOPS alert for this vehicle and subsequently learned it was located at Mystic Lake Casino in Scott County on September 3rd. Officers obtained video surveillance from Mystic Lake Casino and observed a person matching defendant's description and appearance driving this vehicle.
Officers issued a PC pickup for defendant and subsequently learned he was arrested on September 6th by Scott County law enforcement. At the time of his arrest, Villanueva was driving the 2014 Ford Fusion registered to his girlfriend. The vehicle was seized pending a search warrant.
On September 6th, officers obtained a search warrant and inside it officers located two notebooks with pages torn out. Officers inspected the remaining pages and observed pen impressions on a blank page. The pen impressions appeared to be created when a pen was used on a top page that was written on and removed from the notebook. The pen impressions were readable and were a bank demand note with language consistent with that used in the above-described bank robberies.
Later that day officers located and spoke with the girlfriend and she admitted to owning the Ford Fusion and her relationship to Villanueva. She then admitted she was involved in the above described bank robberies with Villanueva and detailed their respective roles in each bank robbery, including who drove the vehicle, where they parked, what Villanueva was wearing, etc. The girlfriend was was shown still images from each of the bank robberies and, in all instances, identified the bank robber as Villanueva.
On September 9th, officers obtained a statement from Villanueva where he admitted to committing all above-described bank robberies, identified himself as the person depicted on still images from the bank robberies, and admitted the demand notes were written by his girlfriend.
Currently Villanueva is in custody in Chisago County.
The Minneapolis Police Department would like to thank multiple law enforcement agencies for their work on these robberies including Alexandria PD, White Bear Lake PD, St. Anthony PD, North Branch PD, Scott County, Prior Lake PD, Roberts, WI PD, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.