Investigation Discovery’s ‘People Magazine Investigates: Mahhunt’ chronicles the sensational homicide robbery at Xerox Federal Credit Union (XFCU) in Webster, New York, on August 12, 2003. During the larceny, the assailant killed one of the customers, Raymond Batzel, before fleeing with the money. The episode documents how the authorities cracked the case almost two decades later with the help of an informant and cutting-edge forensic technology. If you’re curious to learn more about the case, here’s what we know.
How Did Raymond Batzel Die?
Raymond Batzel had worked as a machine operator for decades at Xerox Federal Credit Union (XFCU), located on the Xerox Corporation campus at 800 Phillips Road in Webster, New York. His daughter, Carrie Akins, recounted how her father grew up on a large farm and tried to recreate that atmosphere for his children by living on a 12-acre farm filled with animals. Shannon Batzel, his other daughter, recalled how they were a happy family, and he instilled within them the sense that “family was important.”
According to the show, Raymond worked hard at his job but ensured fun-filled adventures for his family in his leisure. His older sister, Diana Batzel Powers, recalled, “He loved his Buffalo Bills and the Rhino soccer team. He would even schedule everything around these games. He lived by his values and compassion for others.” On August 12, 2003, Raymond was making his last car payment at XFCU while another employee, Carl Wisniewski, a former engineer at the Xerox complex, was also present.
As Carl waited for the assistant manager to assist him with his financial transaction, he saw an individual enter the XFCU. He wore a dark blue nylon jacket with the letters “FBI” written in yellow on the jacket’s back, shades, and a poorly fitting wig. While Carl talked with the manager, he felt a cold metal on his neck, and the assailant asked him to get under the desk. He recounted how he heard the perpetrator threatening the tellers to fill the bags with cash. Moments later, he heard two loud gunshots, one of which fatally struck Raymond in the neck.
Who Killed Raymond Batzel?
On August 12, 2003, at around 9:45 am, the assailant — Richard Leon Wilbern — entered the Xerox Federal Credit Union (XFCU). He arrived bearing a conspicuous large briefcase and an unconventional green and gray umbrella, which he clutched, along with a United States Marshals badge dangling on a chain around his neck. Little did the unsuspecting employees and customers know the events to unravel soon. Richard approached the cubicle of a female employee under the guise of conducting a security assessment.
He chillingly informed her that he intended to “stage” a robbery. As he disclosed his sinister intentions, Richard retrieved two menacing firearms from his ominous briefcase, one described as a handgun, and the other appeared to be a sawed-off shotgun or rifle. With an eerie calmness, he ordered the trembling employee to empty the teller counter into a bag he had produced. Fearing for her life, the employee complied with his harrowing demands. Shortly after, he coerced employees and terrified customers to lie prostrate on the floor.
Amid this chaos, he encountered Raymond, who had just concluded a routine banking transaction. In a brief, tense exchange of words, Richard shot Raymond in the neck, killing him instantly. The horrific scene continued to unfold as a second customer, Joseph Doud, entered the credit union, only to be met with the gruesome spectacle of the shooting. In a desperate bid to escape the mayhem, Joseph turned to flee, but Richard mercilessly shot him in the back as he sought refuge outside. However, Joseph survived the attack.
Having wounded and killed two individuals, Richard returned to the teller counter area, barking orders at the trembling credit union employees to fill his bag with cash. He fled the scene with the stolen money, mistakenly leaving behind the ominous green and gray umbrella. In the wake of this heinous robbery and homicide, authorities turned their attention to the abandoned umbrella as a potential source of evidence. The Monroe County Public Safety Laboratory embarked on a mission to extract DNA samples from the umbrella.
The forensic team swabbed to collect trace genetic material from various parts of the umbrella. Initially, the results of the DNA analysis yielded meager quantities of genetic material, rendering any conclusive findings unattainable with the technology available at the time. The case went cold for almost a decade. Investigators from the Webster Police Department took the second set of swabs to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) in New York City, where cutting-edge DNA testing techniques were employed, on November 15, 2011.
At OCME, the experts utilized High Sensitivity DNA testing to unlock the secrets held within the umbrella’s DNA. On December 28, 2011, OCME delivered a groundbreaking report confirming the presence of human DNA on the submitted swabs. Two of these swabs contained sufficient levels of human DNA to undergo High Sensitivity PCR DNA testing and comparison. The DNA extracted from the “umbrella closure wrap around” indicated the presence of DNA from at least two individuals, with one major male contributor identified as “Male Donor A.”
Despite this groundbreaking information, local and state DNA databases failed to yield positive matches. The investigation took a significant turn in March 2016 when the authorities convened a press conference to seek fresh leads. Details of the chilling crime were divulged, and photographs of the assailant robbing the credit union were released into the public domain. The police implored anyone with information to step forward and assist in bringing the perpetrator to justice.
On March 27, 2016, former Xerox employee Jamie Labatte reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with a pivotal revelation. Jamie asserted the individual behind the heinous crime could be a former Xerox employee, Richard Wilbern, who had been terminated. He further claimed to recognize Richard’s face from the photographs released during the press conference. The FBI met with Richard, who approached the agency three weeks later with a complaint regarding a purported real estate scam.
During one of their encounters, FBI agents obtained a DNA sample from him after he licked and sealed an envelope. This seemingly inconspicuous act provided the ultimate breakthrough in cracking the case. The envelope was sent to OCME, where forensic experts compared the DNA profile from the envelope to the DNA profile previously extracted from the ominous green and gray umbrella. The results were unequivocal – a positive match. On September 27, 2016, they arrested and charged him with murder and robbery.
Where is Richard Leon Wilbern Now?
Richard had a prior conviction for a 1980 bank robbery and had also faced charges for possessing an illegal sawed-off shotgun in 1987. He had worked at Xerox from September 1996 to February 23, 2001, but his employment was terminated due to excessive absenteeism. He initiated a lawsuit in 2001, accusing the company of unlawful discrimination of his employment conditions, creating a hostile work environment and racial bias, and retaliating against him for speaking out against Xerox’s discriminatory practices.
The lawsuit was dismissed, and trial evidence revealed that the single father faced significant financial distress from around 2000 to 2003 as he struggled to provide for his son’s expensive private school education. He had even filed for bankruptcy. Richard also held checking and savings accounts at the Xerox Federal Credit Union. After a five-week trial, he was convicted of murder and robbery on November 8, 2019, and sentenced to life on September 22, 2020. The 63-year-old is incarcerated at USP Terre Haute and will be released in January 2055.
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