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Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Kenneth John Konias Jr. Armored Truck Robbery/Murder Case

     One would think that stealing a large sum of money from an armored truck--a bullet-proof vault on wheels protected by at least two armed security officers--would be extremely difficult, and rare. It is not. While some armored car heists feature a lot of planning and several accomplices, most are committed by one or two people. A high percentage of armored car robberies are inside jobs committed by security personnel. In the infamous 1950 Brinks job in Boston, the police didn't recover one cent of the stolen $2.7 million in bills, checks, and money orders. By the time the suspects were identified and rounded up, the checks and money orders had been destroyed and the cash spent.

     An armored van or truck makes between ten and twenty pickups and deliveries a day. The most secure vehicles are equipped with tracking devices, and are staffed by a crew of three armed officers. The driver never leaves the truck. At the delivery and pickup stops, the guard is positioned near the vehicle while the messenger handles the cargo. Occasionally the guard will accompany the messenger to and from the truck. To cut costs, armored car companies often use 2-person crews in which the driver is also the messenger.

The Pittsburgh Armored Truck Robbery/Murder Case

     Kenneth John Konias Jr., a 2008 graduate of Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, lived in nearby Dravosburg, a town of 2,000 along the Monongahela River. The 22-year-old, an only child, lived in his parents' house. Upon graduation Konias began work as a security guard in a shopping mall. After a year with the Dravosburg Voluntary Fire Department, Konias joined the volunteer fire department in Duquesne. Six months later, the Duquesne fire chief dismissed him because he "didn't fit in." He had failed the test to become an Allegheny County police officer.

     Early in 2011, following a background check, some psychological testing, and a little firearms training, Kenneth Konias became a driver-messenger with the Garda Cash Logistics Armored Transport Company. Several months later, Konias' fellow employees found lottery tickets from a grocery store on his route in the back of the truck. Konias, who hadn't purchased the tickets, said he must have carried the tickets out of the store on the bottom of his cash satchel. His supervisor accepted the explanation and the matter was closed.

     On February 28, 2012, Konias was paired with 31-year-old Michael Haines, a guard who had been on the job a few months. After graduating from Pittsburgh's Robert Morris University with a degree in communications, Haines, from East McKeesport, had previously sold Verizon cell phones. Until getting the job with Garda, Haines had struggled finding full time work. On that Tuesday, with Konias behind the wheel and Haines in the cargo area of the truck, the men pulled away from the Garda office in downtown Pittsburgh. It was a few minutes before eight o'clock in the morning.

     Just before one in the afternoon, after making a pickup at the Home Depot store in suburban in Ross Township, Home Depot employees thought they heard a gun go off inside the Garda truck. Thirty minutes later, Konias parked the armored vehicle under a bridge two blocks from the Garda office. He climbed out of the truck, walked to the employee parking lot, and drove off in his tan Ford Explorer.

     After stopping at places to pick up money bags he had stashed, Konias drove to his parents' house in Dravosburg where he greeted his father. After putting his bloody Garda jacket on a hanger and hiding $200,000 in cash in the house, Konias left the dwelling in his Ford Explorer.

     At 3:45 that afternoon, a Garda employee came upon the idling truck under the bridge. Blood seeped out the back of the vehicle, and inside Michael Haines lay dead from a bullet fired into the back of his head. The guard's 9 mm Glock semiautomatic pistol was missing along with $2.3 million in cash, enough money to fill two trash bags.

     Konias, after leaving Dravosburg that afternoon, called several people on his cell phone. He spoke to his mother Renee, telling her that he had stashed $25,000 at his grandmother's grave site at St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery in Munhall. (Mr. Konias retrieved the money, and a relative notified the police.) Konias called a friend and asked him to run off with him. He said he would never have to work again. To another friend he said he had messed up and that his life was over. The friend asked him if he had killed someone. Konias paused, then said yes. In one of the conversations Konias asked about extradition laws in Canada and Mexico. After making these calls, Konias tossed his cell phone out his car window. It was found along Route 51 south of downtown Pittsburgh.

     On Tuesday night, when police officers searched the Konias house in Dravosburg, they recovered the bloody Garda jacket and $200,000. Hoping to catch Konias before he got too far, the police alerted U.S. border authorities, airports, bus depots, and train stations.

     On March 1, 2012, the Allegheny County district attorney charged Kenneth Konia with criminal homicide, robbery, and theft. The FBI issued a wanted poster and added Konias to the FBI's Most Wanted List. The bureau also posted information regarding the fugitive on its Facebook page.

     On Friday, March 16, the police-hunt for the 6 foot one, 165 pound fugitive was featured on Lifetime TV's "America's Most Wanted" show.

     On April 25, 2012, FBI agents arrested Konias without incident at a house in Pompano Beach, Florida. Based on information from the suspect himself, agents recovered most of the stolen money from the Pompano Beach house and a storage locker nearby. At the time of his arrest, Konias still had possession of the handgun he had carried when he worked for Garda Cash Logistics.

     On November 13, 2013, at the conclusion of the 7-day bench trial, Allegheny County Judge David Cashman found Konias guilty of first-degree murder, robbery, and theft. At the sentencing hearing on February 18, 2014, Judge Cashman, in advance of announcing Konias' fate, said that Konias had put greed before human life. Konias interrupted the judge by saying, "I was going to suggest you not lecture me and give me my sentence so we can proceed." Unfazed, the judge continued, pointing out that Konia had plotted the assassination for months. The judge also noted that the Haines family had shown mercy by not requesting the death penalty.

     Judge Cashman sentenced the 24-year-old murderer to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
     

4 comments:

  1. Do you think may be someone found Konias out and killed him, destroyed all that evidence, and took the money? That would explain why he hasn't been found yet!

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    1. Yes, it is possible. Thank you for the interesting idea.

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  2. Wow...is this going to be a DB Cooper case? as this guy is still missing I presume.

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  3. you might've updated this in another post but he has been arrested and is in custody in pittsburgh now. he was arrested in south florida with $1 million cash still on him, supposedly. he was turned in by a pimp/prostitute (who didn't rob him?). supposedly konias was doing a lot of drugs in florida, where there is also a considerable amount of sex trafficking. he looked horrible. there have been strange rumors that konias is bisexual and was prostituting around pittsburgh...

    here is a link to another blog about another homicide that happened at serra catholic, where konias went to school.

    http://www.awuerlofhurt.com/2012/05/attempted-murder-of-adam-ference.html

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