Thursday, Sept. 15, 2005 | 11:27 a.m.
Heather Catherine Tallchief, a fugitive in a $3.1 million Las Vegas Strip casino armored truck heist, surrendered to federal authorities today in Las Vegas.
Tallchief told reporters before she surrendered that she drove the armored truck loaded with cash away from the Circus Circus casino in October 1993. Police said she and then-boyfriend Roberto Solis boarded a chartered plane to Denver shortly after the robbery and had not been spotted since.
Her lawyer said this morning that Tallchief eluded authorities by living under an assumed name and working as a maid and at other cash jobs in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
But after 12 years on the FBI Most Wanted list, she was tired of hiding, and wanted her 10-year-old son to have a chance at living a normal life, attorney Robert Axelrod said.
"I truly feel this is the right thing to do," Tallchief said at the office of a Las Vegas lawyer assisting in her case.
Axelrod, who practices in Meriden, Conn., was with Tallchief when she surrendered at U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
He said his client was an impressionable 21-year-old who blindly followed a persuasive older boyfriend in the Oct. 1, 1993, theft.
Solis is now 60 and is still a fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted list. The couple were also featured on a 2002 report on the television program "America's Most Wanted."
"I was under strict instructions," Tallchief said. She said Solis told her to "follow these orders, listen well, carry these plans out without fail."
Tallchief maintained she doesn't know where Solis is, although they have a son together.
She said she dropped her son off Monday at his school in Amsterdam. "I told him to practice his guitar, have fun at his sporting club, do his homework, and I'll see you soon."
She said he was aware she was surrendering and said she hoped to see him within a year.
Her lawyer said friends were caring for the boy.
The couple broke up a decade ago, and Solis has the stolen money, Axelrod said.
"He brainwashed her," Axelrod said. "As surely as a Manson kind of character (or) a Jim Jones kind of character."
Police said Tallchief was employed for several months as a driver for Loomis Armored Inc. before she disappeared with a truck loaded with $100 and $20 bills while co-workers filled automatic teller machines inside the casino.
Police believed the crime spurred a rash of local armored car robberies, including a 1994 armored car theft at the MGM Grand, in which the thieves made off with about $2.9 million.
Federal warrants were issued in 1993 charging Tallchief and Solis, under the name Julius Gabriel Sauve, with bank larceny.