Federal authorities are crediting a tipster with cracking the 13 year old murder mystery at the Xerox Federal Credit Union near Rochester.
“Those revelations provided more light into an investigation that up until March bore mostly darkness,” said Buffalo Division FBI Special Agent, Adam Cohen.
Authorities say their billboard campaign back in March triggered the tipster's call. The caller provided Richard Wilbern's name, and said he was fired from the company in 2001. The caller also remembered seeing Wilbern in the FBI jacket (he's allegedly wearing in the infamous photos) before the robbery and shooting happened.
Raymond Batzel was shot and killed during the robbery. “For absolutely no reason whatsoever, he used a firearm to murder a customer who had at that moment only completed a transaction and intended to continue with his day,” said W.N.Y. District U.S. Attorney William Hochul.
According to the 14-page criminal complaint, advances in DNA technology also led to Wilbern's arrest. Wilbern's DNA was allegedly found on an umbrella left at scene all those years ago. “That umbrella, thanks to the perseverance of all the law enforcement officials you'll hear mentioned today, is what, along with the public support, became the lynchpin of today's announcement,” Hochul said.
“I'm 89 and a half years old and it was my prayer that I would live long enough to see this case come to justice,” Batzel’s mother, Rowena Bennett said to reporters on Wednesday.
Bennett thanked the countless members of law enforcement who helped make an arrest in her son's murder, and she even had a message for the suspect's family: “they also have a heartache knowing their son did this heinous crime.”
Wilbern faces several charges including robbery and murder. If convicted, it’s possible he could face the death penalty. However, Hochul said he isn’t sure whether that’s something he’s going to pursue.
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