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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kenneth Konias: Pittsburgh's Armored Truck Killer Captured

     On Tuesday, April 24, a few minutes before midnight, a small army of law enforcement officers with the FBI, Broward County Sheriff's Office, and the South Florida Violent Crime Task Force, approached a one-story, white house in a run-down Pompano Beach neighborhood. The officers had come to arrest 22-year-old Kenneth Konias, Jr., the former Garda armored truck driver who, on February 28, 2012, had murdered his partner, Michael Haines, and run off with $2.3 million in small denomination cash. (About two trash bags full of bills, mostly $20s.) Since the robbery and murder, committed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Konias has been the subject of a national manhunt.

     When no one answered the door at the Pompano Beach dwelling (a suspected crack house), the officers kicked it in and entered with their guns drawn. In the house they arrested Konias without incident.

     From this shabby house, and a nearby storage facility, police recovered $1.3 million of the stolen Garda money. They also seized Konias's Garda-issued pistol, and another handgun. (One of these firearms will probably be the murder weapon.) In the fugitive's rented bedroom, the officers found stuffed animals, a pack of cigarettes, and a half-empty bottle of whiskey.

     Two weeks before Konias' apprehension, he had rented the room from a stripper who goes by the stage name Summer, a woman he had met online. She became his girlfriend and the recipient of lavish gifts in the form of jewelry and clothing. A week later, after they had a falling out over another woman, Konias locked Summer out of this room. She broke in and stole a duffle bag containing $30,000.

     Because Konia had been walking around in jeans and a polo shirt with two guns tucked into his waistband, used his real name, and bragged about the armored truck heist to a motley crew of pimps, prostitutes, strippers and crackheads, a lot of people, including his ex-girlfriend Summer, knew what he had done back in Pittsburgh. After Summer told another ex-boyfriend about Konias, he Googled the fugitive's name, saw his photograph, and read about the robbery murder. At nine o'clock Monday night, Summer's ex called the Pittsburgh Police Department.

     Based on Konias' behavior in recent weeks, he is either extremely stupid, or simply wanted to be caught. (Another woman who lived in the Pompano Beach house, Shewona Flowers, thought Konias was depressed. He recently told her he was thinking of traveling to Jamaica.) According to a 31-year-old prostitute named Cathy, she had traded sex with Konias for $800 worth of cocaine. She thought he was "nice."

     Kenneth Konias has waived extradition, and should be back in Pittsburgh in a week or so. He is currently being held in a federal detection center in Miami. The police have not found his tan Ford Explorer, the vehicle he had used to flee Pittsburgh after the robbery and murder. (He got around the Pompano Beach area by hiring cabs. Konias had been in Florida about eight weeks. After committing the crime in Pittsburgh, he drove straight to the Miami area in his Ford Explorer.)

     It will be interesting to see how many people helped Konias remain at large, and if any of them will be charged as accomplices after the fact. (For background on this case, see: "The Pittsburgh Armored Car Robbery/Murder Case," March 9, 2012.)

The Garda Loot

     Konias stole $2.3 million, and before fleeing to Florida, stashed $300,000 between his parents' house in Dravosburg, and his great-grandmother's grave site in Munhall. When the police arrested him in Pompano Beach, Florida, they recovered $1.1 million. That leaves $900,000 still unaccounted for. Since Konias couldn't have spent that much money during the 55 days between the crime and  his arrest, there must be a stash of money hidden somewhere in Pennsylvania or Florida.

Michael Haines

     After his arrest, Konias told FBI agents that he shot Michael Haines when the 31-year-old Garda guard pulled his gun to stop the heist. Konias could be tried in state or federal court, and though it's doubtful, could face the death penalty.  

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