You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Courts

  • Investors to collect in Marathon case
    Nearly two years after a jury ruled in their favor, a group of investors entangled in a lawsuit with Marathon Oil over damaged properties can collect nearly half a million dollars.
  • Alleged bar gunman admits gang ties
    One of three men accused of participating in a beating and shooting inside a north-side bar admitted to criminal gang activity Tuesday in Allen Superior Court.
  • 70 years in cruel holdup-beating
    For all intents and purposes, Zach Doan ended the life of his 80-year-old victim when he bloodied her face with his closed fists, robbing her of her eyesight, independence and security.
Advertisement
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
A Fort Wayne police officer talks on a phone after he and officers searched the house at 3119 Winter St. on Friday.

Arrest made in bank heist as 2 homes get searched

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
A law enforcement officer carries boxes out of a house at 3119 Winter St. on Friday.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Police also searched Eberle's apartment at 7635 Cold Springs Blvd.
Allen County Sheriff's Department
Michael R. Eberle
Security photo from the bank robbery.

Friday morning, FBI agents were at the door of his apartment with a search warrant in hand.

Across town at the same time, Fort Wayne police officers were rummaging through his mother's home on the southeast side.

Already that morning, the 29-year-old Fort Wayne man found himself in jail, charged in federal court with robbing a local bank this month.

And his biggest mistake – aside from pulling a gun on a group of unsuspecting bank employees this month – may have been opening his mouth.

That's according to newly released court documents detailing what went on inside the iAB Financial Bank in Harlan on June 16, and how one man with a cloth wrapped around his face forced bank employees to empty cash drawers and the vault before making a getaway.

Federal authorities now identify that man as Michael R. Eberle, who became the target of two federal task forces and who may have burned through the money he stole – both figuratively and literally.

And it's something he also bragged about.

'Put your hands up'

He walked into the iAB Financial Bank in Harlan at 9:01 a.m., just after the doors were unlocked that Monday.

The bank, along Indiana 37, is surrounded by a mix of businesses and residential homes.

Bank employees would later describe the man who walked in as 5-foot-7, white and 25 to 30 years old.

They said he wore a cloth over his head that showed only his eyes and that he wielded a black handgun.

“Put your hands up,” he told the employees in the bank upon entering.

After that, he removed three bags – two blue and one orange – from under his shirt and placed them on a counter.

He told a teller to fill the blue bags with cash from the drawers.

The orange bag he took to the manager and demanded the money in the vault be put inside.

Along with good currency from the vault, the manager also added a mix of damaged and old bills that had been set aside for destruction into the bag.

The man left the bank and headed for a car outside. Along the way, he ran past a witness on the street.

Seeing the handgun and how the man was running, the witness turned toward him.

“What the (expletive) you looking at,” the man told the witness.

He then sped off in what the witness told police was a white two-door car.

Authorities would later piece together that it was actually a silver four-door car the gunman used to get away.

Days later, authorities would release information about the bank robbery, including surveillance photos of the suspect.

Overheard in the emergency room

Fast forward to Monday.

A man and woman are in the emergency room of St. Joseph Hospital in downtown Fort Wayne.

They are talking.

Security is listening.

The man and woman discuss the Harlan bank robbery and let on that they know who did the job.

Police are immediately called.

In an interview with police and an FBI agent, the woman says that Michael Eberle committed the bank robbery.

She says she knows this because Eberle, whom she's known for at least a dozen years, told her so.

In court documents, she told police Eberle called her June 19 and asked if she could come watch his kids while he and his girlfriend went out drinking.

The woman and the man she was at the hospital with both went to Eberle's apartment on Cold Springs Boulevard on the city's north side.

While the man stayed with Eberle's kids, the woman went for a drive with Eberle and his girlfriend.

That's when Eberle asked if she wanted to know where all the money he and his girlfriend had been spending came from.

“Do I really want to know?” the woman said.

Eberle then talked about the robbery, telling the woman information that only the police knew and that had not been released to the press – i.e., the number of people in the bank, how he stole from the vault, etc.

He admitted to burning some of the money that looked “strange” because he was scared to use any of the bills.

Authorities believe that was the old money marked for destruction – another detail not released to the public.

The woman took Eberle to a Wal-Mart where he bought a cellphone.

He thought his phone might be monitored.

The woman was later shown surveillance photos from the bank robbery.

Despite the cloth over his head, she immediately identified the man in the photos as Eberle.

4 stacks of currency and a black handgun

The man at the hospital had a separate interview with authorities.

He knew Eberle for about three years and also ended up in the Allen County Jail with him at one point.

The same night Eberle took a car ride with the woman he admitted the robbery to the man.

He went so far as showing the man four stacks of currency wrapped with bank straps as well as a black handgun. Eberle then told the man he wore the same mask he had worn when they were behind bars together.

The man told investigators Eberle would wrap a cloth around his head so that only his eyes would show.

He also told investigators Eberle asked him if he wanted in on another bank robbery he planned in August.

The man declined.

When shown photographs of the masked gunman in the bank, the man immediately said it looked like Eberle.

  • To see security photos from the bank robbery, click here.

Police informant listens attentively

The man and woman weren't the only two Eberle apparently told about the bank robbery.

A third person he talked about it with was a confidential informant for the Fort Wayne Police Department.

The informant called his handler with the department June 23 and said he knew who robbed the bank.

The following day, he met with Eberle and Eberle's mother at a home at 3119 Winter St.

There, Eberle said he and two others drove to Harlan and cased the bank the Sunday before the robbery.

Eberle boasted that law enforcement had the getaway car he used wrong, that it was not a white car but a silver Mitsubishi four-door.

He also said he had a getaway driver who parked in the wrong spot, which caused him to run into the witness he threatened while leaving the bank.

As he did with the man and woman, Eberle also spilled details not released to the press – genders of the tellers and manager, what he said to whom, what kind of bags he used and whom he gave them to.

Eberle did not know, however, that the informant was wearing a wire during this meeting.

A checkered past but no prison time

It's Friday morning.

There are Fort Wayne police officers clad in bullet-proof vests on the porch of 3119 Winter St.

Other law enforcement members are there as well, but they're wearing plain clothes. One, working undercover, is wearing a mask over his head to hide his identity.

They carry brown grocery sacks, boxes and plastic containers out of the home.

Other law enforcement officials are raiding Eberle's apartment at 7635 Cold Springs Blvd.

The investigation into the bank robbery was being done by the FBI Fort Wayne Safe Streets Task Force as well as the FBI Northeast Indiana Federal Bank Robbery Task Force.

According to a statement from the FBI, Eberle was taken into custody in the 7900 block of West Jefferson Boulevard that morning, though authorities did not specify where he was found.

Thursday afternoon, though, Eberle posted this on his Facebook page: “Sitting at the hospital waiting for my mother to pass.”

The address for Lutheran Hospital is 7900 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Eberle has been charged with one count of armed bank robbery and is being held in Allen County Jail without bond.

In his past, Eberle has been charged with misdemeanors such as public intoxication, criminal conversion and a few felonies involving marijuana and drunken driving.

He's never been to prison.

Now, he faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

Advertisement