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Woman who surrendered in '93 heist was Buffalo native $3.1 million stolen from armored car in Vegas

Many people thought Heather Tallchief had gotten away with the perfect crime -- the daring theft of $3.1 million from an armored car outside a Las Vegas casino.

But on Thursday, the 33-year-old Buffalo native turned herself in to police, saying she's tired of being a fugitive and wants to sell her story to the highest bidder, giving any proceeds to the victim of her crime.

Tallchief had successfully eluded police for almost 12 years, and for most of that time, had been living in the Netherlands and working as a maid, her attorney said.

"She is a Seneca Indian. She grew up in Buffalo, but has not been back to Buffalo since her high school years," one of her attorneys, Daniel Albregts, told The Buffalo News in a telephone interview Friday.

Little more could be verified about Tallchief's Buffalo background on Friday, but Williamsville Schools officials confirmed that she attended Williamsville South High School for the 1986-87 school year before moving away.

"Heather still has family in the Buffalo area, but she has not been in contact with them for many years," Albregts said.

Tallchief's story has been making national news reports for the past two days, ever since she shocked Las Vegas law enforcement officials by showing up there and turning herself in for arrest.

Tallchief became one of a handful of women to ever be on the FBI's Most Wanted fugitives in October 1993, when she and a boyfriend stole money from an armored car outside the Circus-Circus Casino. She was 21 at the time.

According to police reports, Tallchief had gotten a job working for Loomis Armored months before the larceny, and she was on the crew that was picking up cash from casinos that day.

Her accomplice, identified by police as Roberto Solis, is still missing. According to Albregts, Tallchief has not seen Solis in more than 10 years.

Tallchief is being held without bail in a Las Vegas detention center, facing charges of larceny, embezzlement, possession of false documents, interstate transportation of stolen property and other counts.

Albregts said Tallchief recently contacted his co-counsel, Bob Axelrod of Connecticut, saying she was tired of having criminal charges hanging over her head and wanted to turn herself in.

Her lawyers helped Tallchief fly into Los Angeles, and then travel to Albregts' law office in Las Vegas, where she held a news conference before turning herself over to federal agents.

"The authorities had no idea where she was, no idea she was in the Netherlands. They were not closing in on her," Albregts said. "She could have gone another 10 years without being caught."

The attorney said Tallchief would have given up years earlier, but she wanted to make arrangements for the care of her 10-year-old son. Her son is now living in Amsterdam with Tallchief's "significant other," Albregts said.

A Las Vegas FBI spokesman declined to comment on the case. Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. marshal in Las Vegas, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that Tallchief's surrender came as a complete surprise.

"[Tallchief] feels guilty about this crime. She's planning to sell her story for a book or movie, and turn the proceeds over to the armored car company," Albregts said.

What happened to the money stolen from the armored car?

Solis kept it, and gave little to Tallchief, the defense attorney said.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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