May 14, 2018

4 Reasons Why You Should Watch Evil Genius on Netflix

I'm not sure if you heard, but on Friday Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist, was released on Netflix. I'm particularly drawn to the story, because this "pizza bomber" mystery took place in my hometown, Erie Pa.
The story started in 2003, when a man robbed PNC Bank with a bomb strapped around his neck. Brian Wells was a pizza delivery driver who was supposedly put up to this heist by a woman Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. After robbing PNC, police surround Brian and he begins begging authorities to help him, and telling them that while out doing a pizza delivery he was taken hostage...the device exploded, and it is all caught on camera by local news stations.
Who was responsible for the death of Brian Wells? Many came to believe that Marjorie, who is described as the evil genius, also a "master manipulator" and "compelling to men" was behind all this, after other suspects throw her name out. The crew of characters- all suspect in some way, is crazy and one creepy thing after the next happens.

I was a sophomore in college the day the pizza bomber, Brian Wells died, and while some details were pretty vague to me, prior to watching the four part series of Evil Genius I distinctly remember what I felt that day.  I also do remember it being PNC Bank because years later when I went to work for them- the bank footage of the heist was used in our security training, and I also recall going out on several stories with Scott Bremner. Scott was a reporter for WSEE- our local CBS TV station and he  makes several appearances on this Netflix story, he says he was interviewed a few times by the producer asking for several details about the case.  I had the pleasure of doing my internship at WSEE and most days rode along with Scott and his camera man...I learned a lot from him and it was very cool to see him on the Netflix story.
Here's 4 reasons why you should watch Evil Genius on Netflix-

The trail of events is almost too much to believe.
I was jaw-dropped as we passed Part 1- The Heist and got in to the details of Part 2- The Frozen Body. The titles alone give you the chills. One thing I will share that stood out to me is how the FBI mentions that Brian Wells walks in to the bank he's about to rob and grabs a lollipop as he makes his way through the lobby. He was so calm. Does a man who knows this bomb is real do these things?  The videos, the dead bodies, the matter of factness in the suspects involved is all a lot to take in. The comments, the evidence, and the whole story is just thrilling- in a creepy way of course.

Of course, the last 5 minutes will wow you.
It wouldn't be a great TV drama if the last few minutes didn't shock you. Part 4- The Confessions leads you through Marjorie, and all of the men close to her giving up their truths. Marjorie was at the top of her high- school class and then in her adult life had several mental illnesses, which made it hard for the police to see what was real. She truly was an evil genius. A new witness, years after we think the crime is solved comes forward that really wow's you.

We still don't know who was truly to blame.
Through all this, there are several sides to the story. I remember calls coming in to the TV station when I interned- and one day it would be about a man, Rothstein. The next, about Marjorie. Who was truly responsible for the death of Brian Wells? Was Brian Wells in on the robbery? Was he going to make out with some money from the heist? Why did Marjorie involve all these men? What was she really after, was it more than money? It's all mind boggling and very odd that through all this evidence, confessions, stories, and there is still no answer. I believe this is the part that makes this mystery such a standout in history.

There are books and stories, but this documentary gives us the most details we have ever heard about the pizza bomber mystery.
Since 2003, there have been books written, local stories done and still none of us have heard all the details we did watching Evil Genius. These producers did an amazing job of following through with gaps in the story, and talking to authorities such as the FBI, the Task Force, State Police and several others like our local Coroner who has now passed. As someone from Erie, Pa it was crazy to see our town portrayed in this story of events that happened that day in 2003. The things that took place all those years after give you chills, and I was really impressed with how the story was told in a narrative way, but was still very accurate. One of the producers routinely received calls from Marjorie while she was in prison (she is now dead), and of course he has an inside view because of it. It was awesome to get interviews with the authorities who were on the case and hear from them 15 years later. The producers blew me away with their work- no pun intended.

Have you heard of this case? Will you be watching Evil Genius? I highly recommend it!

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