DNA Leads Back to Two Men Wanted for 2009 Armed Robbery of Palm Coast Bank
FlaglerLive | February 6, 2013
You have to go back to the afternoon of January 16, 2009, for this one. It was 4 p.m. Two armed men burst into Floridian Bank at 7 Boulder Rock Drive in Palm Coast—one of them wearing black from head to toe, including hat, gloves and jacket, the other wearing a tan hat, a gray long-sleeved shirt and blue jeans.
The clothing is not incidental: it proved to be key to their arrest, but only three and a half to four years later. That afternoon the man in black (apologies to Johnny Cash) fired two rounds from a .45-caliber gun into the ceiling of the bank, terrorizing people inside. As he fired the second shot, one of the men grabbed the bank manager by the hair, while the other suspect picked up the shell casings. The two men then fled with $1,661.
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies responded with K-9 units. They didn’t find the men. But they found a tan hat and black gloves similar to the ones the suspects were seen wearing in surveillance video. A white mesh bag was also discovered. The evidence was turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for DNA analysis.
Cops were able to gather other clues: a witness had seen two black men acting strangely next to a black car, later identified as a Chevy Malibu, in a vacant lot near the bank before the robbery. The men stopped doing what they were doing, waited for the witness to pass, then, according to the witness, resumed what they’d been doing.
Last July 20, Antonio Clark, 27, of Jacksonville, was arrested on charges of grand theft and being a principle to armed robbery after he was located at the Jacksonville jail on unrelated charges. The key evidence: his clothing’s DNA, left near the scene. The hat did it.
The sheriff’s office, in its arrest report for the second suspect, Antonio Aviles, also 27, cites “a credible source” as identifying Aviles as the second alleged robber. An Indiana booking photograph from Aug. 16, 2009 was obtained of Aviles and compared to the surveillance images, confirming that he was the man at the bank. The Fort Wayne police had obtained DNA from Aviles in an unrelated case. FDLE compared its sample to that of Aviles, and released the results of that analysis on Dec. 27. It was a match.
The new evidence led to a warrant being issued for Aviles. Flagler County Sheriff’s Investigator Elizabeth Conrad, who pursued the case and bears much of the credit for its resolution, subsequently contacted the Indiana police agency and the warrant was served on Aviles.
“This is an excellent example of just how valuable DNA analysis is to our investigations,” Sheriff Jim Manfre said. “We were able to identify the robber and locate him through a central DNA data base that is available to law enforcement.”
Antonio Clark, a native of Fort Pierce, is being held on $175,000 bond. Aviles, a native of Jacksonville, is charged with aggravated battery in addition to robbery with a weapon and grand theft. He’s being held on $200,000 bond.