Peabody bank robbery suspect held without bail, will be charged in 2 other thefts

BOSTON (WHDH) - An East Boston man accused of robbing a bank in Peabody and fleeing the scene in a taxi was ordered held without bail Tuesday.

Leo Willwerth, 31, pleaded not guilty in Peabody District Court to criminal charges stemming from the robbery of a Bank of America on Andover Street about 2:19 p.m. Monday. Prosecutors say after he was arrested, Willwerth admitted to the robbery and two others.

Peabody police say Willwerth claimed to have a bomb strapped to his chest before running off with an undisclosed amount of cash. After the robbery, police say Willwerth went across the street to the North Shore Mall, where he got into a taxi with a woman.

The taxi driver, who was unaware of what his passenger was accused of doing, was stopped on Interstate 93 in Boston near Melnea Cass Boulevard, where Willwerth was arrested.

State police say he has since admitted to robbing a Santander Bank in Boston June 5 and an East Boston Savings Bank in South Boston on June 7 and will be charged in connection with those robberies in the coming days.

It’s unclear whether the woman he was traveling with was aware that he had robbed a bank.