A 73-year-old Manchester man says he robbed a Tullahoma bank because he was desperate, depressed and down on his luck.
Jackie Wayne Ferrell is being held in the Coffee County Jail on $250,000 bond for the Feb. 4 robbery at gunpoint of Citizen’s Tri-County Bank branch on West Lincoln Street. Bank and police authorities have declined to disclose the amount of money stolen.
In an interview at the jail, Ferrell told The Tullahoma News that he was “down on his luck and depressed,” that he owed $700 for rent, plus his electric bill, water bill, car payment and some more bills including loans and two bad checks. He added that he had lost his job with a cleaning business and that his wife’s death last year had cut the household income in half.
“She managed our money and took care of things,” Ferrell tearfully explained. Ferrell said rumors that he had a gambling problem were not true. “I used to gamble but I don’t any more,” he said. “I might have played ‘the machines’ last summer but not in a long time,” he said.
He said the more he thought about his financial problems the more he decided to rob a bank and picked the Citizens Tri-County Bank because in the past he had gone there to get change for a $100 bill and “knew what the bank looked like on the inside.”
“I took eight Percocets and waited about an hour and half before I drove to the bank to rob it,” he said. Asked where he got the prescription pain pills, Ferrell said he “bought them from a man in Manchester.”
He said while he was waiting for the pain pills to “kick in” he wrote out his robbery note that instructed the teller to give him $100s, $50s, $20s and $10s and not to worry because “the money is FDIC insured.”
Investigators alleged that Ferrell used a pistol while robbing the bank, but he contends that it “was a cap gun.” After robbing the bank he said he thanked the teller and walked out the door and to the side of the building toward his waiting car. When he got to the car he put on a red satin jacket, his cap and gloves but “dropped the keys between the seat and couldn’t get them out” so he “just sat there,” he said. He explained that while he was trying to figure out what to do, he saw several police cars drive by him.
“A former cop came by and said he had a tow truck and that he could pull me to the dealership to get a new key made,” he said. “But he had to go get his truck and it ran out of gas.” He said while waiting he returned to the back seat, “mashed it down” and ran his hand down beside the seat and found his keys. “I then drove away,” Ferrell said.
He said he placed the coat, hat and gun in a garbage sack and threw the bag off Power’s Bridge on the way to Manchester, “It is in the Mississippi River by now,” he said.
Authorities later pointed out that the water under the bridge flows into Normandy Lake and not the Mississippi River.
Ferrell also alleged that police violated his rights by searching his house without a warrant, but they say they searched the house with his permission. Ferrell stated that the money was under his bed in a box, but investigators said that is not true because it was found in a storage building “down the street from his house.
“They told me if I would cooperate with them they would help me on my charge, but they charged me with aggravated robbery,” Ferrell said. “Then they went and charged me with aggravated robbery that carries a longer prison sentence.”
He noted that if sentenced to state prison, he could get out early by serving “good time,” but with the aggravated charge he would have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. He noted that a simple robbery charge would mean state prison but aggravated could lead to federal time and “that means 85 percent has to be served.”
Ferrell was sentenced in 1990 to 15 years in prison for a robbery of the AEDC Federal Credit Union branch in Manchester.
He claimed that that sentence was for aiding and abetting the person who did the actual robbery. “I did not rob that place, I was a victim,” he claimed. “The guy who robbed it offered me some of the money.”
He noted that he served 10 and half years in federal prisons for his part in that robbery. “
I would plead to simple robbery to robbery, but if they want to stick to the aggravated robbery then they are in for a fight and I will own Tullahoma for the illegal search of my house,” he stated. “They had no right to search my house.
“Y’all taxpayers are going to have to put me up for room and board, my food, medication and burying,” he said. “The only family I have is a stepson and he is a truck driver and is gone all the time.” Investigators were able to locate and arrest Ferrell with the help of the FBI and witness accounts. Authorities said they were able to make the connection with Ferrell and the bank robbery because the money found on him matched the serial numbers of the stolen money.
“That is the only way they caught me was because those $100s were marked,” he said. Authorities verified that in addition to state charges for the robbery, Ferrell could face federal charges.
Ferrell is being represented by Kevin Askren of the Public Defenders Office. Kristy West of the Coffee County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. Ferrell is to appear in Coffee County General Sessions Court next Thursday.