Fugitive Surrenders in Las Vegas, Admits to Casino Heist - 8 News NOW

George Knapp, Investigative Reporter

Fugitive Surrenders in Las Vegas, Admits to Casino Heist

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Roberto Solis Roberto Solis
Heather Tallchief in 1993 Heather Tallchief in 1993

Federal authorities got quite a surprise when one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives walked into the courthouse to surrender.

The Eyewitness News I-Team was the only local TV station there, and also talked with Tallchief before turning herself in.

Robbery suspect Heather Tallchief disappeared from a casino on the Las Vegas Strip 12 years ago with $3 million in cash. Before surrendering, Tallchief told the Eyewitness News I-Team about where she's been and what happened to the money.

Heather Tallchief was calm, composed and obviously relieved as she prepared to turn herself in. She says she explained to her 10-year-old son that she was going to be away for a while. Her lawyers hope that federal authorities go easy on her since Tallchief says she didn't get any of the stolen millions.

I-Team question: "Where have you been?"

Heather Tallchief answered, "I've been at my home in Amsterdam."

Fugitive Heather Tallchief matter-of-factly described the aftermath of her 1993 armored car heist on the Las Vegas Strip. Tallchief was 21 years old at the time, employed as a driver for the Loomis armored car company.

She drove away from the Circus Circus with an estimated 3 million in cash and vanished, along with her boyfriend and alleged partner Roberto Solis. Solis, a convicted murderer, was the mastermind of the Loomis robbery -- according to Tallchief -- and who had a Manson-like control over the young woman.

Heather Tallchief said, "He's someone I listened to and obeyed and if he said to do a certain thing, I would follow through."

Tallchief and Solis used disguises and fake ID's to slip away from Las Vegas after the heist traveling to Denver, to Miami, and then to parts unknown. Eventually, they landed in Amsterdam where Tallchief gave birth to their son. But a few months after the baby arrived, Tallchief split.

Defense attorney Bob Axelrod said, "She left him in the middle of the night when the baby was 2 months old and hid from him for awhile until he either stopped looking or wasn't looking at all."

That was more than ten years ago, and Tallchief says she hasn't seen Solis since. She says she didn't take any of the $3 million and has supported herself in Holland by working as a chambermaid. For someone who might be facing a long stretch in prison, Tallchief seemed at peace with her decision to surrender. "I feel like a winner. It's probably an unusual thing to say, but I feel excellent."

Tallchief's lawyers hope that her voluntary surrender, and her allegations that she was brainwashed by Solis, might convince federal prosecutors to take it easy on Tallchief. Her arrival at the courthouse Thursday morning certainly caught people off guard.

Bob Axlerod said, "They knew exactly who she was as soon as we told them, but they weren't expecting her."

Heather Tallchief made her initial court appearance Thursday afternoon. She faces nine federal charges, all of them related to the robbery and her attempts to elude the authorities.

Roberto Solis remains at large with whatever is left of the $3 million.

Contact I-Team Investigative Reporter George Knapp

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Channel 8 played a roll in the investigation of the robbery. In 1993 an Eyewitness News viewer led police to a garage rented by the suspects. That's where they found the empty van, Tallchief's gun and belt and a few dollar bills.

The viewer had rented the garage to the male suspect in the case. He said at the time, "Last night, watching channel 8 news, they showed his picture on TV and I ... suddenly clicked in my head it was the guy that they were looking for."

Until this man came forward police had wondered if Tallchief had been kidnapped. But after talking with this viewer detectives decided she had participated in the robbery.

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