Neighborly act played a role in bank robbery, man says

ARRESTED — Acquaintances say Moss McCole, 35, formerly of Harrison, told a woman who was giving him a ride the afternoon of Oct. 18 in a borrowed pickup truck that he was going into the Market Basket to buy a pack of cigarettes. Instead, police say, McCole allegedly entered the adjacent Northeast Bank and demanded money from a teller. He was arrested less than an hour later when he and the woman drove back to the home of owner of the pickup, Kenneth Edwards, of 317 Edes Falls Road. Edwards said neither he or the woman had any idea that a robbery had just taken place until nearly 10 police cruisers descended on his property. "We all kind of feel used…we try to help people," he said. Police have yet to recover the around $3,000 in cash that McCole allegedly stole, and are continuing their investigation.

ARRESTED — Acquaintances say Moss McCole, 35, formerly of Harrison, told a woman who was giving him a ride the afternoon of Oct. 18 in a borrowed pickup truck that he was going into the Market Basket to buy a pack of cigarettes. Instead, police say, McCole allegedly entered the adjacent Northeast Bank and demanded money from a teller. He was arrested less than an hour later when he and the woman drove back to the home of owner of the pickup, Kenneth Edwards, of 317 Edes Falls Road. Edwards said neither he or the woman had any idea that a robbery had just taken place until nearly 10 police cruisers descended on his property. "We all kind of feel used…we try to help people," he said. Police have yet to recover the around $3,000 in cash that McCole allegedly stole, and are continuing their investigation.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

HARRISON — Kenneth Edwards, like many others living in "The Friendly Village" of Harrison, has a close-knit family and knows many folks in town as friends. A retiree and resident of 317 Edes Falls Road, Edwards tries to help them if he can.

His neighborly ways have served him well, that is, until the afternoon of Oct. 16, when he said he unwittingly allowed his pickup truck to be used to rob the town's only bank.

"We all kind of feel used," Edwards said Friday, referring especially to the local woman who drove the truck, who asked that her name not be used.

"We try to help people," said Edwards, only to hear others in town making speculative jokes, such as the person who greeted him the day after the robbery by saying, "Here comes that gangster guy."

Moss McCole, 35, formerly of Harrison, was arrested and charged with Class B robbery after police say he entered Northeast Bank at 46 Main Street at 3:55 p.m. and demanded money from a teller. Witnesses say McCole showed no weapon, but assaulted a male bank customer before leaving the bank with around $3,000 in cash. The money has not been recovered. McCole was arraigned Oct. 18, and is currently being held at Cumberland County Jail.

The bizarre chain of events began when Edwards said McCole showed up earlier in the day at the Maple Ridge Road home of the woman, a former friend of his. Only eight days previous, McCole had been released from Cumberland County Jail after serving five months for burglary, forgery and criminal mischief charges, according to police. He had been given a place to stay and a job, according to comments posted by a family member accompanying a Portland Press Herald article about the robbery.

McCole asked the woman if he could borrow a vehicle so he could pick up his daughter after school, Edwards said. She called Edwards, and he said that since he didn't really know McCole, he would only loan out the pickup, a green Chevy S-10, if she would do the driving.

Edwards' son-in-law, Tim Stanton, said the woman stopped and parked in the Village, near the Olde Mill Tavern. McCole told her he was going into the Market Basket for a pack of cigarettes, Stanton said. When he returned a few minutes later, Stanton said McCole acted normally and said nothing to indicate he had allegedly just robbed a bank.

Completely by coincidence, a Maine State Trooper was driving through Harrison when the bank alarm went off at 3:55 p.m. It took him just two minutes to arrive at the bank, and within minutes after that, witnesses provided police with a vehicle description and license plate number identifying the truck as belonging to Edwards.

"In a rural setting, to have that quick a response is quite remarkable," said Cumberland County Sheriff Detective Lt. Don Foss, who said the trooper "played an important role." Harrison's contract deputy with the sheriff's department, Ashley Griffin, arrived soon after and secured the bank, assisted by Bridgton Police Officer Phil Jones and at least a half-dozen other county deputies and detectives.

"It was a good inter-agency team effort," said Foss.

According to Edwards and Stanton, McCole and the woman did not return directly to Edwards' house, which is only five minutes from the bank, but went to her house first. When they pulled into Edwards' driveway, around 45 minutes after the robbery, police cruisers almost immediately pulled up right behind them, they said.

"At one time, there were nine cruisers here," said Stanton. He said police ordered both McCole and the woman out of the truck at gunpoint, and made both lie face down on the ground with their arms behind their heads.

Those in Edwards' house reacted in shock at the scene, but Stanton said no one was more shocked than the woman driver. Police searched both of them as well as the truck, he said, adding that the woman's home was searched as well. Stanton said he believes police will eventually recover the money.

"We're still trying to locate where that money went to," said Foss, and have not ruled out the possible involvement of others. He said police do not have evidence to indicate that drug addiction played a role in the robbery, but added, "On the flip side, many crimes of this type (bank robberies) are drug-related."

On the Press Herald article comments, several people said that McCole is a drug addict. One commenter said, "If you don't know him then you should keep your judging to yourself. He is a good man who is addicted to drugs. No one chooses to be a drug addict. He is not in his right mind."

On a lighter note, Stanton said the robbery obviously was ill advised. "I can't believe he even believed there was enough money in that bank."

 

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