While money may not grow on trees, authorities discovered approximately $12,000 hidden on the limbs of one tree Tuesday after a Burlington Junction, Mo., bank was robbed last week.

Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White said authorities continued the investigation into the armed bank robbery of the Citizens Bank & Trust last Friday. He said authorities received information Tuesday that the money was concealed in a location in southern Iowa.

“It really was in the middle of nowhere. This is just my assumption, but I’m sure they were thinking they could get away and come back later and recover it,” Mr. White said. “Or they could at least call somebody so they could go back and recover it.”

Joseph O’Neill, 26, Mount Pleasant, Iowa; Travis Davis, 27, of Fort Dodge, Iowa; and Donald Kestner, 26, also of Mount Pleasant, led authorities on a rural pursuit after Elmo, Mo., resident Bobby Smith followed the suspects’ vehicle after witnessing two men enter the bank with masks covering their faces. Mr. Smith continued to follow the vehicle and notified authorities of the suspects’ location into the afternoon.

“I will be the first one to admit that we got really, really lucky,” Mr. White said. “But again, if it wasn’t for people choosing to get involved, I think there would a lot of stuff that wouldn’t get solved.”

Citizens’ tips detailed information that the suspects were seen on Missouri Route FF, just south of the Iowa border and west of Hopkins, Mo. Mr. White said the group had driven over the state line into Iowa before they attempted to conceal their vehicle and fled in a wooded area back into Missouri.

On Saturday, Mr. O’Neill, Mr. Davis and Mr. Kestner were each charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. While the bank initially told officers an estimated $10,000 was taken, officers located about $12,000 concealed in the tree.

“It appeared that the money accrued interest inside the tree,” Mr. White joked. “When the bank went back and audited their money, it was later determined that they had stolen $12,000 and some change.”

Mr. O’Neill, Mr. Davis and Mr. Kestner all remain in custody in lieu of $100,000 cash only bond each. Their next scheduled court appearance was not available.

Kristin Hoppa can be reached at kristin.hoppa@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPHoppa.

(1) comment


Great job...!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.