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Wandering 'Zombie Bandit' captured by Wyoming police

The "Zombie Bandit," who robbed more than a dozen banks in the Midwest in the early 1990s and is a suspect in last week's robbery of a Medford bank, was arrested Thursday in Wyoming, police said.

Medford police detectives had received word that Alan David Hurwitz, 67, was in Wyoming and relayed that information to that state's authorities. Within 30 minutes, a Wyoming State Police trooper stopped Hurwitz's car on Interstate 80.

"It was like a late Christmas present for us," Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said.

"We were happy that he was caught quickly before he could commit another crime," Doney said.

Hurwitz was arrested on a charge of robbing the Liberty Bank branch on East Barnett Road in Medford Dec. 30.

The trooper found drugs inside Hurwitz's car and he was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, police said.

In a profile published in the Detroit Metro Times in 2005, Hurwitz admitted that his crack habit fueled his crime spree. Doney did not know what type of drug was found in Hurwitz's car Thursday.

In addition to the Medford robbery, police and the FBI have linked Hurwitz to a Dec. 11 bank robbery in San Rafael, Calif.

Hurwitz, who grew up in Detroit, made headlines in 1991 when he went on a robbery spree, hitting 18 banks spread across Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, according to the Metro Times.

The FBI gave him the nickname the "Zombie Bandit" because of the vacant look on his face during the Midwest robberies.

The case generated national interest. "America's Most Wanted" contacted Doney after it became public police suspected Hurwitz was the suspect. He was featured in the television show in the early 1990s.

Police and FBI agents in Medford said interviews with witnesses and others enabled them to pin down what they thought was the make and model of the suspect's car. That description was sent out to agencies in the Western states Wednesday evening, Doney said.

According to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, investigators said they developed information that the suspect might be passing through Wyoming and they directly alerted authorities there, just as Hurwitz was heading down the highway in the southeast corner of the state, he said.

State Trooper David Wagener received word be on the lookout for a maroon 1998 Volkswagon Passat. Wagener was westbound on I-80 when he spotted the vehicle headed in the opposite direction. He alerted Highway Patrol offices in Laramie and Cheyenne, 45 miles away, for backup.

Then he got into the eastbound lane, caught up to Hurwitz, and followed him for about 16 miles. Hurwitz was tailgating other drivers and having a difficult time staying in his lane, the trooper reported.

While other troopers prepared spike strips farther ahead, Wagener and a second trooper did a felony stop with guns drawn. Wagener said Hurwitz was fully compliant and arrested without incident.

Informed of the suspect's reputed lack of facial expression, Wagener said, "I would say that would be an accurate description through my contact."

Hurwitz remained lodged in the Albany County Jail in Laramie, Wyo., without bail. It was not known when he might be extradited to Oregon.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

Wandering 'Zombie Bandit' captured by Wyoming police