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DNA Led Investigators to Suspect In Fatal Credit Union Robbery

TWC News

Federal and local authorities on Wednesday released more information about the man charged with the robbery and homicide at a Xerox federal credit union in Webster in August of 2003.

The man charged is 56-year-old Richard Wilbern, a former Xerox employee who lived in Fairport at the time of the robbery. 

He’s accused of shooting and killing Raymond Batzel of Livingston County and wounding another customer in the credit union, Joseph Doud of Rochester.

Officials revealed that they were led to Wilbern after a tipster said they had worked with Wilbern at Xerox before he was fired.  In August 2000, Wilbern filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination, which was dismissed in 2002, and again in 2005 when it was appealed.

FBI special agent in Charge Adam Cohen says authorities got DNA evidence from an umbrella that Wilbern left behind at the time of the robbery. Cohen says there were three things that helped solve this case.

“First, an incredibly brave and remarkable tipster, who provided the name that we needed to press this case forward.  Second, advances in science and technology, which have proven significant in so many other cases, and last some very bright, very dedicated agents, analyst and investigators.”

Rowena Bennett (center), mother of Raymond Batzel, says her late son was the glue that held the family together.

Cohen says authorities were able to get a sample of DNA from Wilbern when he stopped by the FBI office earlier this month to discuss a complaint he made about a real estate scam. He licked an envelope and the FBI got DNA from that to match against the umbrella. When Wilbern returned to the FBI office on Tuesday to follow up, he was then arrested.

Batzel’s 89-year-old mother, Rowena Bennett, thanked investigators and the public for their work in solving the case. Though she is relieved an arrest was made, she says the effects of the tragic ordeal remain.

“There’s never closure. This goes on and on. If we take a piece of your heart and we take it out and you try to go on with your life, day after day, you find that your heart didn’t heal up,” says Bennett.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul says if convicted, Wilbern could get up to life in prison, or potentially, a federal death sentence if the Attorney General pushed forward for that punishment and if a jury voted in favor of that penalty.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.