A handwritten note demanding money proved to be the key that led to the arrest Monday night of a 54-year-old Madras man near Prineville in last week's holdup of a northeast Bend branch of Home Federal Bank, officers said Tuesday.
Robert Chester Short was arrested shortly before 9 p.m. Monday at a campground along Highway 27 south of Prineville, said Bend police Lt. Nick Parker.
Short's arrest comes 30 years after a Deschutes County jury found him guilty of robbing another Bend bank - a case in which he fled empty-handed after the teller balked at his demand for money.
This time, a man wearing sunglasses and a bandanna robbed the bank branch at 671 NE Greenwood Avenue during last Thursday’s lunch hour and managed to run away with an undisclosed amount of cash, despite a major manhunt in the area, including three tracking-dog teams.
No weapons were seen, but a customer who witnessed the holdup tried to stop the man and got into a scuffle with him, but the robber broke free and ran from the bank, toward the south, police said.
Officers revealed Tuesday that investigators had recovered a handwritten note at the bank, containing the robber’s demand for money.
“Investigators were able to track the information on the note, which ultimately led to the identification of Short,” Parker wrote in a news release. Police learned Short was staying temporarily at a campsite along the Crooked River.
Short was found and arrested with help from the FBI, Crook County sheriff’s deputies and Prineville police, Parker said. Parker declined to say whether the money was found with Short.
"Our investigative team works very hard trying to solve all of the seven robberies that we've had,"Parker told NewsChannel 21. "When we're able to put the evidence together and develop enough evidence to arrest somebody in a case, that's obviously the goal."
Short was lodged at the Deschutes County Jail in Bend on charges of second-degree robbery, first-degree theft and harassment. Initial bail was set at $27,800.
Parker said Short was only charged with second-degree robbery as opposed to first-degree because witnesses didn't report seeing a weapon.
Thirty years ago -- on March 12, 1984 -- Short, then a Redmond resident, tried to rob the First Interstate Bank branch at the Bend River Mall, handing a teller a note and demanding money, indicating he had a gun, records showed. The teller balked, and he fled.
His lawyer said Short was unarmed at the time, but a jury in May of that year convicted the then 24-year-old Short of second-degree robbery. Online court records also show various convictions before and since then.
Police said shortly after Thursday's holdup they didn't believe the more slender robber was the serial bank robber believed to have held up two Bend banks a total of five times between December 2011 and last December.
The so-called "Big-Belly Bandit" is believed to have robbed the downtown branch of Home Federal three times and a south Bend Bank of the Cascades branch twice over that period. He was described as 5-foot-6 to 5-11, weighing 230-260 pounds, and used a weapon.
Back in June 2012, a knife-wielding man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and white bandana over his faced robbed the U.S. Bank branch at 1442 NE Third St. and ran, eluding pursuing police.