Bank robbery suspect nabbed by fingerprints on demand note

A fingerprint on a demand note led to the capture of a Missouri bank robbery suspect who had been previously sentenced to life in prison, court documents show.

Donnell Starks, 59, was charged with first-degree robbery Wednesday in a July 21 heist at Midwest Bank in Chesterfield, where he allegedly handed a teller a handwritten demand note, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday.

“Put money in this bag,” Starks’ note read, Chesterfield police Det. Clayton McGee wrote in court papers.

Starks — who was on parole after being convicted in a St. Louis robbery in 1988 — was carrying a Gucci bag and told a teller to hurry up or else he would shoot one of her colleagues, McGee said.

The teller complied with Starks’ demand and put cash into the Gucci bag before he grabbed more money from another teller and fled. He also put his hand to his waistband, indicating he had a gun, authorities said.

Investigators later recovered a fingerprint on the demand note that matched Starks, whose data had been on file following the 1988 conviction in which he was sentenced to life behind bars.

Police took Starks into custody after the fingerprint match and he allowed cops to search his cellphone. The device indicated that he was in the area of the bank when it was held up, Chesterfield police said.

Mugshot of Starks.
Donnell Starks, 59, was charged with first-degree robbery Wednesday.
Chesterfield County Police
Donnell Starks was previously sentenced to life and is now back on the life of crime.
Donnell Starks was previously sentenced to life and is now back on the life of crime.
Chesterfield County Police

No one was hurt during the stickup, KMOV reported. The suspect later identified as Starks made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, according to KTVI.

Starks, of Florissant, was released from state custody in August 2019, a Missouri Department of Corrections spokeswoman told the Post-Dispatch. Decades earlier, a judge had earlier sentenced him to life in prison for the 1988 robbery.

A jury that convicted Starks in the holdup acquitted him on murder charges, according to a Post-Dispatch article from the following year. Carl Bonnett, 23, was killed while chasing two assailants. Another man ultimately pleaded guilty in his death, the newspaper reported.

Starks’ bail was set at $150,000 cash, according to the report. It’s unclear if he’s hired an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

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