A 53-year-old Des Moines woman suspected in as many as 15 bank robberies in the Seattle area was arrested Jan. 11 by Kent Police for investigation of robbing an East Hill bank.
The woman became known as the “Mrs. Doubtfire” bandit because at first witnesses were uncertain whether the robber was a woman or a man because of her disguise, said FBI special agent Fred Gutt in a Jan. 14 phone interview. The nickname was taken from the 1993 film “Mrs. Doubtfire” that starred Robin Williams in a role where he disguised himself as a female housekeeper.
King County prosecutors have charged Kristin K. LeClaire with first-degree robbery in connection with the Kent bank robbery. LeClaire is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 27 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. Bail is set at $250,000.
LeClaire is believed to be responsible for as many as 14 other bank robberies in the Puget Sound area, according to charging papers. In those cases, she would use demand notes and said threats such as “I have a gun and will kill you,” or “Don’t give me any marked bills or I’ll start shooting.”
That list includes banks in Seattle, Auburn, Kirkland, Des Moines and Burien, Gutt said.
In most of the cases, the woman would demand cash and apply that she had a weapon although no actual weapon was ever observed, Gutt said.
Kent Police arrested LeClaire after she allegedly robbed the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, 10201 S.E. 240th St.
Bank employees and witnesses identified the woman as well as the vehicle she drove after leaving the bank. Police pulled LeClarie’s vehicle over near the bank and arrested her for investigation of robbery.
One bank customer followed the woman out of the bank and watched her remove her outer clothing and place it in a handbag, according to charging papers. The man yelled at the woman to stop, but she warned him to back off as she reached into her jacket as if getting a gun.
The customer continued to follow the woman and waved down two men in a passing car to follow the woman as she drove away. The men followed the vehicle, called 911 and Kent Police arrived to stop the woman’s vehicle.
Police found a handbag on the front seat of the woman’s vehicle that contained clothing and $1,550 in cash. A FBI agent later determined the woman had worn that clothing during the robbery and the bank reported that same amount of money was taken.
One officer noted that LeClaire had a strong odor of alcohol coming from her mouth and probably had been drinking. LeClaire responded with “I’m not drunk but I did need a little liquid courage.”
The FBI received a search warrant for the woman’s home and allegedly found evidence to link her to bank robberies last year and expect charges to be filed at a later date.
LeClaire remained in custody Jan. 14 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center. She was booked into the Kent city jail Jan. 11 before being transferred the next day to the King County jail.