Twelve bank robberies are linked to a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde.
It was a typical day at the Klamath First Federal Bank in Bend, Oregon. The bank was about to close and bank teller Rhonda Dent looked forward to a serene evening at home with her husband and four children. Then suddenly, a gunman entered the bank:
Four years… twelve banks… over half a million dollars. That was the track record of two outlaw lovers named Craig Pritchert and Nova Guthrie. No wonder some saw them as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde.
Craig Pritchert once seemed destined for athletic stardom. But when his baseball career fizzled, Pritchert headed for the bright lights of Las Vegas. There, he found a new passion—robbing banks. No one knows exactly how many robberies Pritchert committed before his luck ran out. After a bank teller identified him in a lineup, he was sentenced to five years in an Arizona penitentiary. But according to Special Agent Edward Hall of the Phoenix FBI, rather than learn from his mistakes, Pritchert spent his time behind bars correcting them:
In New Mexico, shortly after his release, Craig met 24-year-old Nova Guthrie. According to Special Agent Jana Monroe of the Denver FBI, Pritchert provided the rebellion and excitement Guthrie desired:
Nova always stayed outside the bank, alerting Craig to any dangers via radio. After each robbery, they drove to a pre-determined location, abandoned their car and fled in a second vehicle. According to Special Agent Monroe, the two led lavish lifestyles with the stolen money:
Two years into their crime spree, Craig and Nova risked capture by visiting Nova’s family in Phoenix. At the time, however, Nova was unaware that only Craig was a wanted fugitive. The FBI had no evidence linking her to the robberies. But Nova’s family knew the truth and resented Craig for enticing her into a life of crime. According to Special Agent Hall, Nova’s brother confronted Craig:
Without Craig, Nova was uncertain what to do next. Confused and remorseful, she heeded her sister’s advice to meet confidentially with Police Chaplain William Fey of the Colorado State Police:
The FBI hoped that with Nova’s help they could bring Craig to justice. But after her surprising choice to cooperate, she made an equally astonishing turnabout. Nova Guthrie disappeared and returned to a life of crime with Craig Pritchert.
In August of 2003, Nova Guthrie and Craig Pritchert were captured in Cape Town, South Africa. Guthrie managed a nightclub, and Pritchert bought and sold stocks over the internet. A South African tourist traveling in the United States recognized Guthrie from a wanted poster and contacted authorities. After being extradited to the United States, Craig Pritchert was sentenced to 22-1/2 years in prison. Nova Guthrie received a 10 year sentence and was ordered to pay restitution.
She served her time and has been released.