BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. - When Kathy Plummer saw the grainy surveillance footage, the life she knew suddenly collapsed.
The bank robber on the local news was Roy Plummer, the ex-husband she was still living with in Bridgeport.
She recognized him by the jacket he was wearing. It was a Christmas present - from her.
Now Roy's many disappearances made sense. He wasn't cheating on her. He was robbing banks.
Later that day - Jan. 21 - she confronted him with the video of the robbery in South Strabane, Pa. After that, she called police.
They tracked Roy down at Prickett's Fort in Marion County. It was a deadly endgame to an incredible string of bank robberies reaching from coast to coast. Along with his crimes, the 49-year-old Plummer left behind the remnants of a marriage and a life full of lies.
In the coming months, Kathy learned that her ex-husband robbed at least three banks while with her. FBI agents are still going over old case files, looking for other robberies he might have committed.
She also learned she wasn't the first person to be oblivious to his compulsion for robbery.
When he admitted to robbing 14 banks in the 1980s, his first wife, Karen Emery, and his friend John Kruk - a Major League Baseball player from West Virginia - were among those caught in the deception.
Kathy and Roy had severe marital problems, but Kathy didn't understand how the man who sang her Irving Berlin songs could be the same man who robbed banks with a gun in his hand and a car idling outside.
And where was the money? The Plummers didn't live extravagantly. The more she learned, the more Kathy believed her husband buried it in parks and wilderness areas all over West Virginia.
Those left behind may never know. Roy shot himself in the head on an abandoned train trestle over the Monongahela River and died later that day.
To understand how Roy Plummer's life came to an end Jan. 21, you first have to understand how he came to marry Kathy Plummer and the lies he brought into that marriage.
'A crime I didn't commit'
The first time Kathy saw her future husband, she was at a craft fair in Clarksburg. It was October 1999, and the recent divorcee was raising her 8- and 5-year-old sons by herself.
Roy "Brud" Plummer was selling his homemade furniture at the craft fair.
The two talked for a while and Kathy asked him out. They met at her house a few days later.
"I opened the door and there stood the most beautiful man I'd ever seen," she recalled.
Roy was tall and muscular, with a shaved head and black goatee.
They opened a bottle of wine and talked for hours in Kathy's living room. Roy said he had a storefront in Weston, but lived in Glenville on his sister's farm. He charmed Kathy with his singing, crooning Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" like Fred Astaire.
After the wine, Roy said he needed to tell Kathy something.
"I want to be real upfront and honest with you. I was just recently released from a halfway house in St. Albans," Roy said.
Kathy was very scared. There was a convicted felon in her house, and he was sitting between her and the door.
"The bad-boy image was real cute to begin with, but I'm not in a place where I need any trouble," Kathy said. "So, please go. I had a wonderful time. You're gorgeous, a great singer, but you've got to go."
Roy implored her to "sit back down and let me explain. You owe me that. This is funny. You'll get a good laugh out of it. I spent eight years, 11 months in federal prison for a crime I didn't commit."
Roy said he took the rap for a string of bank robberies for a friend.
Kathy was skeptical of the story, but let Roy sleep on the couch since he had been drinking. In the morning, he made breakfast before she woke up.
He won her over that morning, and she found she believed he really was wrongfully imprisoned.
They married in October 2000 at a small church in Preston County - on Friday the 13th.
A 9 mm and a mask
Roy Plummer entered into his marriage to Kathy predicated on a lie.
In 1988, he told the FBI he robbed 14 banks in California, Texas, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
For some of the robberies Plummer had an accomplice, Jay Hafer, who drove the getaway car. Plummer gave him a cut of the money, though nowhere close to half, according to a federal affidavit.
Ten days before his 1988 arrest, Plummer robbed a bank in Moon Township, Pa., with a 9 mm handgun and a Ronald Reagan mask.
Plummer told FBI agents he was just looking for something to cover his face, according to FBI agent Patrick McGlennon, who worked on the most recent Plummer robberies.
Just when Plummer began robbing banks isn't clear.
The FBI believes he robbed a supermarket in his hometown of Keyser in 1986, McGlennon said.
At the time, Plummer was married to Karen Emery. According to an affidavit, Emery said the two separated in March 1986 because he was using cocaine and wasn't working, but still had plenty of money.
In November 1985, Emery found a large amount of cash hidden in bank wrappers in Plummer's desk. At first he said it was from a racetrack, but later told her he robbed a bank, according to the affidavit.
Emery and Plummer first met as children at church. Plummer was a fun guy and well liked in Keyser, Emery said recently.
Plummer came from a close-knit family, Emery said. His mom, Marylou, who still lives in Keyser, raised all four of her children by herself after their father died. Roy was the youngest. All four of the children graduated from college.
The couple married in 1980.
Plummer taught Sunday school to teenagers at their church, Emery said.
"He gave them things to think about. He related the Bible to you," she said.
Plummer was a bodybuilder and got some of the Sunday school kids into lifting weights. When he found out one of the boys in the group was using drugs, he kicked him out.
"He said, 'Not in my group.' He was squeaky clean; do it right," Emery said.
Plummer sold insurance while married to Emery. He eventually started his own company and got an office in Keyser.
Emery said they never had an argument. But during the last three or four months of the marriage, Emery said she began to notice a change in Plummer.
Emery said she found out he was cheating on her when she found a note from a woman on his car.
"It was one of the girls he was seeing. I only ever found one. Others told me more," Emery said. "When I confronted him, he dropped his head."
It's easy to follow the top stories with home delivery of The Charleston Gazette.