"It all went down in under an hour. June 16, 1991.
A gunman disguised in a hat and sunglasses forced his way into the service elevator at what was then the United Bank, now called the "Cash Register Building."
He ambushed bank guard William McCollum when the elevator door opened and rode two stories down beneath Lincoln. Then he killed McCollum, who was unarmed, execution style.
The killer navigated a maze of underground tunnels, slipped into the guard room, and surprised three more guards, Phillip Mankoff, Scott McCarthy and Todd Wilson.
"They were shot at close range in the head," said Bill Buckley, the man who prosecuted this case.
The gunman stormed the bank vault, where six tellers were counting millions of dollars in cash. He let the tellers live, but made off with just under $200,000, and vanished.
Police thought all along it was an inside job. The investigation quickly focused on James King, a former Denver officer and security guard at United Bank.
There was circumstantial evidence against King, but the prosecutor's strongest case came from the tellers who saw the gunman. Four witnesses identified King in a photo lineup as the gunman, and a fifth thought it might have been him.
Prosecutors were pursuing the death penalty, but King had one thing going for him, his defense attorney, Walter Gerash, one of the most respected lawyers in Denver.
"I said I don't think you have anything to worry about, I was wrong," Gerash told us.
By the time the trial started, televised on national TV, Gerash had a plan. He discovered that just four days after the crime, the FBI showed the six bank tellers pictures of bank guards, past and present, and none of the tellers identified James King.
It raised the question whether the key eyewitnesses had identified King because they'd seen his picture twice.
"I think the identity was not beyond a reasonable doubt, and that's what we argued," Gerash said.
It was the turning point of the case. After a three week trial, and nine days of jury deliberations, the verdict was not guilty. James King was a free man.
The case was over, but the mystery continues. The money from the bank robbery has never been found. There has never been suspect convicted in the crime, and there are no new investigations.
"It's a crushing blow" says John Wilson, father of victim Todd Wilson.
"Every year it's a little bit harder," Wilson says. "I don't think they should ever give up, ever until it's solved...I think they need to find it, solve it and finally make it appear the law system does work." (Visit source link for a video (visit link
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