It wasn’t the getaway bicycle that led to a suspected bank robber’s identity

Wendell Howell Yarbrough III
Wendell Howell Yarbrough III

A man who hid his face in a bank robbery and used a bicycle for his getaway was wearing a distinctive ball cap that led to his identity, an affidavit says.

He also had reported a possible bank robbery at a different bank to throw police off track, a prosecutor said.

Wendell Yarbrough III, wore a black ball cap in the April 19 armed holdup of the Hancock Bank branch on Beatline Road in Long Beach, Detective Brian Beeman wrote in his sworn statement.

Yarbrough took $6,753.40 from the bank after he threw two duffel bags at three tellers and told them to “fill them up,” Beeman said.

Police reported the robber wore a stocking over his face and pulled out two weapons during the heist. He left on a yellow cruiser-style bike, police said.

The robber was wearing a black ball cap, dark shorts and a teal-colored T-shirt, as shown in a bank surveillance picture given to the media. Police found a black ball cap in a pond on Pineville Road near the bank the next day. Beeman said the cap had the word Blacklidge in yellow letters on it.

Investigators called Blacklidge Emulsions, a Gulfport-based asphalt company, to see if it had an employee who matched the robber’s description from the surveillance picture.

The business said it had recently fired an employee named Wendell Yarbrough, Beeman said.

What police say they found

Police obtained Yarbrough’s driver license picture and went to a home on 28th Street, where he was living with family. Yarbrough, 28, was not home, but his father gave permission to search the residence, Beeman said.

Police reportedly found in a trash can a wet white towel covered with a large amount of what looked like red dye. Tellers had put an exploding dye pack in the bags with some marked money, the affidavit says.

Officers searching the backyard said they found a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Those also were red — and wet.

In the garage, they allegedly found a bicycle matching the description of the getaway bike.

Yarbrough had called his father to say he would turn himself in, Beeman said. Police found him in woods off Beatline Road and took him into custody. While arresting him, officers found a soda bottle with money inside, some of which was red.

Yarbrough waived a preliminary hearing. Judge Albert Fountain has turned the case over to the next Harrison County grand jury.

A ‘fake’ phone call

While preparing for the hearing, Herman Cox, county prosecuting attorney, said he learned Yarbrough had made a “fake” phone call to police, saying he saw people who appeared to be trying to rob The People’s Bank.

“After the dye pack exploded, (Yarbrough) destroyed a lot of the money because it was covered with red dye,” Cox said. “Police found about $1,600 that had traces of red dye.”

Yarbrough is held at the county jail on a $750,000 bond.

He faces an armed robbery charge. State law does not have a separate charge for bank robberies.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews