Loop bank robbers convicted after ditching DNA-laden cap at Christkindlmarket

CHICAGO — A twice-convicted bank robber and a female accomplice have been convicted of robbing another bank in downtown Chicago, largely because they ditched a winter cap in a trash can at the annual Christkindlmarket while fleeing the scene.

Officials said Reginald Berry, 60, received a nine-year federal prison sentence this week after pleading guilty to his third bank robbery. He was on federal supervised release for bank robbery when he and Iesha Batchelor, 31, conspired to rob Fifth Third Bank, 57 East Randolph, on November 22, 2019.

An FBI agent said in a criminal complaint that Batchelor committed the robbery while Deberry stood outside and “appeared to be acting as a lookout.”

Batchelor told the teller, “I want all the money … no one will get hurt,” a line she developed through “coaching from Deberry,” federal officials said this week.

Iesha Batchelor (top) and Reginald DeBerry are seen with a surveillance image of the bank robbers preparing to enter the Christkindlmarket. | U.S. District Court records; U.S. Attorney’s office

After Batchelor received a $1,297—and a hidden GPS tracker—from a teller, the couple fled into the Christkindlmarket, ditching a winter cap in a trash can as they entered.

A market security guard saw Chicago police officers walking quickly into the market and pointed them toward the cap. The cops seized the hat and sent it out for DNA analysis, which matched genetic material from the cap to Batchelor and Deberry, the FBI agent said.

The couple was caught on video as they walked through the Christmas market, entered the County Clerk’s Office next door, and grabbed a taxi outside city hall. Deberry and Batchelor split the bank’s cash, officials said.

According to the FBI, more than three months after the robbery, Chicago police officers who responded to an unrelated call captured bodycam images of Batchelor wearing a jacket similar to the one the female bank robber was wearing. During the incident, Batchelor gave police her home address, which was about a quarter-mile from where the bank robber’s taxi ride ended.

Federal prosecutors said Batchelor pleaded guilty in exchange for a one-year sentence earlier this year.

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