Collar Bomb Suspect Gets Life Plus 30 Years

By: Harold Hayes

ERIE (KDKA) –The sentencing hearing for the woman convicted in the death of a pizza deliveryman was held Monday morning.

Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, 61, was convicted in November for her role in a 2003 robbery in which Brian Wells, 46, had a bomb locked around his neck. He was killed when it exploded before police could defuse it.

Jean Heid, the victim’s sister, came to federal court in Erie with a lot on her mind. She remembers the last words of her brother, Brian Wells, just before a collar bomb exploded outside a PNC Bank in Erie more than seven years ago.

She could hear him on TV say, “I don’t have a lot of time. It’s going to go off.”

But she also thought the defendant, Diehl-Armstrong, was not the mastermind of the plot and was manipulated by William Rothstein who was named in an indictment, but died of cancer before any charges were brought against him.

Heid said as much during her victim impact statement.

“That the killers are still out there, that killed Brian, and it needs to be investigated and brought to justice,” she said. “I believe that Rothstein set her up to be at different locations.”

Heid was also angry that his head was removed during the autopsy to preserve the collar bomb for investigation.

“We could not have closure because we could not have an open casket at the viewing,” Heid said.

Diehl-Armstrong told the judge, “My heart goes out to his sister. She spoke the truth. The true killer is still out there…I’ll be damned if I’m going to take the heat for this. I’m not a crazed killer.”

Prosecutors said there’s no mystery here. The case, they say, has been solved. The prosecutor called Armstrong a “manipulative narcissistic conniving and scheming woman.”

“This investigation has been over seven and a half years,” U.S. attorney David Hickton said. “It has involved thousands and thousands of hours and forensic work, ultimately involved some jailhouse talk from Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, and then a full public trial over three weeks.”

“We are satisfied that the puzzle has been solved and justice has been served here,” he added.

Prosecutors say the defendant killed her boyfriend to keep him silent about the plot. She’s serving a separate state sentence in that case.


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Pennsylvania State Police

  • CousinLarryAppleton

    Truthfully Brian Wells would probally still be alive if the police let him finish the instructions for getting the collar off, but since they didn’t want to believe him and handcuffed him and made him wait instead he is now dead.

  • dansuxs

    Truly a terrible tragedy and my deepest condolences to the victims family.

    The police are responsible for the safety of the general public. They did what they had to do in this case to protect others from being injured.

    Any and all blame belongs to this very evil lady.

  • will g

    this case took over 7 years to come to a close. i wonder why it was soo long. i guess they were waiting for her to get uglier but they must of come to the conclusion that that was impossible

  • Charles

    I agree with CousinLarryAppleton and will g. Police should share some blame and 7 years is entirely too long for this day to come.

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  • bob

    What a freaking waste. plus 30??? who gives a rats A$$ about this person. now we have to pay about $35,000 a year for her to live in jail. Why dont they just put her to death. Just like she was intending to do to him.

    • Joseph Puskar

      it will happen ….when shes in jail someone will oj her azz

  • will g

    i’m not sure how true this is but i herd that it accually cost more to put someone to death than keep them locked up for life. something to do with all the appeals that the court has to hear.

  • Ann

    It costs $29,000 per year per inmate in the state of Pennsylvania. That includes FREE healthcare. Also, if the inmate does not receive regular checkups, such as dentist appointments every 6 months, they have a right to file a lawsuit for violation of rights–yes, they have a fundamental right to healthcare while in prison. So…no it is not more expensive to put someone to death. It costs more to have someone on death row, yes, but an inmate shouldn’t be on death row for their entire lives.

  • Tony

    @ Ann health care is not free to the inmates of the state of pa correctional facilities,they have to pay some towards their health care if the go to medical

  • firing squad

    Why doesn’t Peninsylvania just use the firing squad or lethal injection. It will cost us thousands of dollars to keep in jail. They should do it for everyone that has a life sentence without the chance of parole.

  • Robert M. Hartle Sr.

    Why do the Courts go out of their way to trump up charges on people? To make it look to the world that they get someone. Anyone they don’t care. And when it happens to you.and or someone that you care about. you will be able to do NOTHING. Then will will no what it is like. Ask any person who has ever done 20 years for something that they didn’t do. Or those hang by your courts.

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