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Title: Big Theft Ends in Shackles for a Young Goth Couple
Source: New York Times, 01/24/08
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January 24, 2008
Big Theft Ends in Shackles for a Young Goth Couple
By SEAN D. HAMILL
CLEVELAND — It was a theft so large and brazen that even law enforcement officials admit some admiration for it.
One suspect, the authorities say, spent nine months working for an
armored car company, learning its employee-shift patterns and the
access codes for its safes. By the police account, he and his
girlfriend waited until the Monday night after Thanksgiving, when the
year's largest receipts from retailers were in those safes, then looted
them and drove to the remote hills of southern West Virginia.
There, joined by his mother, they holed up in a mobile home they had
found on a scouting trip in October, and counted their haul: $7.4
million in cash and checks.
"It sounds like a good plan, I know," said Tony Slifka, police chief of
Liberty Township, Ohio, the Youngstown-area community where the theft
occurred on Nov. 26. "But they left a trail like Hansel and Gretel
leaving the crumbs in the forest."
As a result, the young couple, whom at least one online true-crime site
has called the Goth Bonnie and Clyde for their love of fantasy
role-playing games and vampire novels, were back in Ohio on Wednesday,
pleading not guilty to charges stemming from the theft. All the money
they are accused of taking has been recovered, the police say, except
for a few hundred dollars.
The pair — Roger L. Dillon, 23, and Nicole D. Boyd, 25 —
face up to 25 years in prison on charges of conspiracy to steal money
from a bank; conspiracy to transport stolen property across state
lines; and transporting and aiding and abetting in that transportation.
Mr. Dillon's mother, S. Lee Gregory, 48, faces up to 15 years.
Brought into federal court in Cleveland in hand and leg shackles and
orange prison jumpsuits, the three defendants, separated by their
court-appointed lawyers, exchanged affectionate smiles with one
another. Only Ms. Boyd had relatives among the spectators, and at the
end of the hearing she mouthed "I love you" to her mother and
After the theft, the working-class couple quickly became suspects, and
just as quickly became figures of local lore in Youngstown, where they
and Ms. Gregory lived. Talk radio and online chat rooms were filled
with admiration for them.
"They are heroes," one person wrote in an online discussion at the site
of The Vindicator, a Youngstown daily. "Nobody was hurt. It's one for
the working man or woman."
But after they were caught, they became a subject of derision for
having made it only as far as Pipestem, W.Va., just 350 miles away.
Inspired by discussions on talk radio, Alan Matavich, a lawyer and
amateur songwriter, wrote the lyrics for "Dumb as Dillon," which has
been popular on pop and rock stations in the area.
"You hear people now saying that, like, `Oh, you're dumb as Dillon,' "
said Scott Kennedy, a disc jockey on Y-103, a local rock station that
plays the song.
The police rapidly focused on Mr. Dillon. He had, after all, failed to
show up to work at the armored car company, AT Systems, the day after
the burglary, and he, his girlfriend and his mother could not be found.
The authorities also learned that they had bought a 1989 GMC Safari
minivan the day of the theft. And Ms. Boyd's pickup truck was
discovered in a parking lot in the town of Salem, just south of
The Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the pickup and found
receipts indicating that the couple had been in Beckley, W.Va., the
nearest large town to Pipestem, in October. Among the receipts was one
for purchase of heating oil that was delivered to the mobile home.
At 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, an F.B.I. SWAT team from Pittsburgh surrounded
the trailer and ordered the three suspects out. The agents turned more
aggressive when Ms. Boyd, her agitated dog refusing to come with her,
was slow to respond to their orders, her parents say.
"It almost made it worse for her," said her mother, Valerie Rosati.
"She was scared as it was, and the dog wouldn't come out of the house
While Ms. Boyd was worried about her dog, Mr. Dillon was trying to
figure out where his plan had gone wrong. "The agents tell me the first
thing he asked them was, `How'd you get us so fast?' " Chief Slifka
A more confounding question for some who knew them best was how such a
seemingly nice couple — like Mr. Dillon's mother without a
criminal history — could have ended up this way.
No one is more perplexed than their landlord, Cookie Bowman, who said
that on the day of the theft, Mr. Dillon, Ms. Boyd and Ms. Gregory all
helped tend to Ms. Bowman's mother, who had just fallen and broken her
"I mean, these are not people you expect to steal $7 million," Ms. Bowman said.
On the other hand, Ms. Boyd, employed most recently as a seamstress and
a stripper, was fonder of spending money than of working, said her
former husband, Mike Stuckey, who has had custody of their 5-year-old
son since their divorce.
"Her dream job was not working," Mr. Stuckey said.
Mr. Dillon, who regularly led long sessions of the role-playing game
Dungeons & Dragons, dreamed of doing something grand with his life.
"Roger was always looking for a way to break from the everyday and
become extraordinary," said Jared Mason, his best friend since fourth
Friends of Ms. Boyd and Mr. Dillon say they never drank alcohol, took
drugs or smoked, preferring books, movies, music and role-playing games
"Would I say she lived at times in a fantasy world in her head?" said
her mother, Ms. Rosati. "Yeah, and I don't think she ever got out of
Friends, family and law enforcement officials say that if Mr. Dillon
had a fateful flaw, it was probably his supreme confidence in his own
"He thought he was infallible," Chief Slifka said. "That's what gets
you in trouble. When you're under stress you make mistakes. And that's
how you get caught."