Lights & Sirens

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UPDATED: “Bad Hair Bandit” suspect had been a nurse in Bethel School District

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Aug. 19, 2011 at 11:07 am |
August 19, 2011 1:21 pm

The woman identified as the “Bad Hair Bandit” – and suspected of robbing banks in four states – worked as a contract nurse in the Bethel School District during the start of her crime spree.

Cynthia Van Holland, 47, was a nurse with the district from September 2010 to March 2011 and floated around to different schools, district spokeswoman Krista Carlson said today.

Officials have said the “Bad Hair Bandit,” who earned the moniker by wearing a variety of wigs during the bank robberies, was responsible for seven bank heists or attempted heists in Pierce County, starting with a Dec. 22 robbery in Tacoma. The last robbery in Pierce County took place April 9.

Van Holland, a licensed nurse practitioner, was employed by Soliant Health, a healthcare staffing company based in Georgia. The Bethel School District subcontracts with Soliant for  nursing services, Carlson said.

Soliant would have fingerprinted and run a background check on Van Holland. The district also checked her references before she started work.

“She had no priors and no red flags,” Carlson said.

Van Holland worked primarily at Camas Prairie Elementary. As a licensed nurse practitioner, she worked directly with students who had health problems, Carlson said. Carlson said she didn’t know of any complaints against Van Holland.

Carlson said there was no indication of why Van Holland stopped working in the Bethel School District in March.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said there were no tips to Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers naming Van Holland as the “Bad Hair Bandit.”

“We got a ton of tips on that with a lot of different names but not that one,” Troyer said.

Van Holland and her husband were arrested Monday in California shortly after a bank heist. He’s suspected of being her getaway driver.

The “Bad Hair Bandit” is suspected of robbing 20 banks in Washington, Oregon, Montana and California.

Van Holland also worked as a contract nurse at an Idaho state prison, where she met her husband. He was serving time for forgery convictions.

When the two married in March in Idaho, Van Holland listed Tacoma as where she was living.

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