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Man Indicted But Still Free After Seven Years

January 26, 1985 GMT

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Seven years ago today, a man walked out of the main office of the First National Bank with $250,000 and disappeared into the crowd, pulling off the city’s largest-ever bank heist.

No one has been arrested, but on Friday a Hamilton County grand jury indicted Larry Porter Chism, whose whereabouts are unknown, one day before the statute of limitations ran out, on charges including aggravated robbery and theft by using a bomb.

Without the indictment Chism, ″could have come in here, said he did it and we couldn’t have done a thing about it,″ said Detective Gus Feldman. The federal statute of limitations ran out two years ago, Feldman said.

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Authorities have identified Chism as the man who walked into the downtown First National office Jan. 26, 1979, posing as a U.S. Treasury official. Chism made it to the bank president’s office, claimed to have a bomb and demanded $250,000. He showed what turned out to be a flashlight rolled in newspaper.

Thomas W. Kitchens had just retired as agent-in-charge of the Cincinnati FBI office and had taken over as the bank’s security director. Kitchens and the bank president were held in the office while other bank officials brought the man the cash in unmarked bills.

He walked out of the bank into the crowds outside and disappeared, police said.

Chism, 36, of Forrest City, Ark., was identified through FBI mug shots in October 1980, police said.

Chism, also wanted for jail escape in both Tennessee and Arkansas, has a very high intelligence quotient and has been a law student and a bank teller at times, police said.

″His whereabouts are unknown,″ said Sgt. Tim Jones, head of the robbery squad. ″Our strongest feeling is that he’s out of the country. That’s just a hunch on our part.″

Feldman said police waited to seek an indictment because ″we had hoped he’d turn up.″

Chism escaped from the Loanoake County, Ark., jail one month before the bank robbery, said Dan Kelly, assistant agent in charge of the Little Rock FBI office. He had been jailed been jailed on narcotics charges, said Sgt. Tim Jones of the Cincinnati robbery squad.

Arkansas authorities continue to hunt for him, Kelly said.

″We feel it is a police matter,″ said Ken Eppich, spokesman for the bank. ″We don’t want to jeopardize our own security. We’d like to see this case solved. There’s no doubt about it.″