x
Breaking News
More () »

Knoxville Breaking News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WBIR.com

Note with fingerprints on it leads to bank robbery charge against Rocky Top man

Authorities say Warren C. Lavender robbed an Oak Ridge bank in October. His prints were found on a note left at the scene.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A Rocky Top man who left behind a demand note that had five of his fingerprints on it is facing a bank robbery charge in federal court, according to authorities.

Warren C. Lavender, 31, is alleged to have robbed the One Bank of Tennessee in Oak Ridge the morning of Oct. 23.

He's being held at a detention center in Laurel County, Ky. He pleaded not guilty to the indictment Thursday, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The note -- and video footage from surveillance cameras that are so ubiquitous today in American society -- helped lead to the capture of the man with the colorful last name, records show.

The suspect walked in the bank on Oak Ridge Turnpike about 8:24 a.m. the day of the holdup, federal records state.

He wore a black beanie hat, a red COVID-19 face covering, gray zip-up hooded jacket with a blue T-shirt underneath, blue jeans and black athletic shoes.

He asked a male teller at the counter about opening an account. Then he left.

A few minutes later he came back, this time with the sleeves of his jacket pulled down over his hands "and carrying a white piece of paper," records state.

The male teller was on the phone, so the robber approached a female teller with the piece of paper.

It read:  "THIS IS A ROBBERY. I WANT ALL THE CASH IN YOUR DRAWER. NO DYE PACKS, NO TRACKING DEVICES. NO ONE GETS HURT."

The teller put the money on the counter. The robber's mask slipped down, exposing his nose, the complaint's affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Wesley P. Leatham states.

"The robber collected the United States currency from the counter and attempted to retrieve the demand note. The robber was unable to reach the demand note and left it on the counter. The robber exited the bank and fled on foot," the affidavit states.

The Oak Ridge Police Department and the FBI set to work on the case. The robber left clues that helped them greatly.

Video cameras in the area showed a person who appeared to match the robber's description pulling up nearby in a white Chevrolet Sonic. It could be seen parking and then driving away several times before the robbery.

Further investigation led Oak Ridge investigators to identify a white Sonic that had been in the area with a license plate that registered back to a Lindsay and Warren Lavender in Rocky Top.

The note also provided incriminating information, the complaint states. A check by ORPD Detective Kevin Craig  of the paper indicated there were several latent prints.

Craig gave the note to Jacklyn Walkup, a latent print examiner with the Knoxville Police Department. She matched five prints on the note to known prints for Lavender on file with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the affidavit states.

Lavender is being held in jail until trial.