The infamous $3 million dollar heist of a Las Vegas hotel.
Las Vegas has always had a great deal of crime and in the 1990s it went through a more “family-friendly” phase to try and reduce some of the crime that the city was seeing. While an extremely popular hotel and casino called Circus Circus was built in 1968, it has been sold and renovated several times. This casino is located on the Northern end of the Las Vegas Strip and has the only permanent circus in the United States. The rooms at Circus Circus have always been relatively cheap, and the hotel's carnival games have made it a popular destination for families.
Heather Catherine Tallchief was working for a bogus armored vehicle repair company when she was 21-years-old. She was working on the day of October 1st, 1993, when she drove the vehicle up to Circus Circus. Tallchief had her boyfriend, Roberto Solis, in the car with her. Solis ran inside and grabbed all of the money that he could. The pair ended up making off with $3.1 million dollars (or $2.9 million depending on the source) in this extremely clean heist. It would have been terribly difficult for only two people to pull off a robbery such as this, and that is why it is still speculated that more people were involved. However, it has only ever been confirmed that Tallchief and Solis were responsible for this crime.
How the couple exactly managed to get away is a little fuzzy. There are a few different accounts but typically sharing the same storyline. Reportedly, the couple boarded a flight from Las Angeles to Denver, Colorado. Then they flagged down a limousine. The limo driver was later able to tell police that he picked up a strange couple, one was dressed as an elderly woman who had a wheelchair and the man appeared to be dressed as a doctor. The trail went cold for the FBI there, but they were able to get an address for somewhere in Miami that they believed the couple would flee to. The FBI went to Miami but discovered that the address belonged to just a mailbox.
After two long weeks with no leads, the investigators finally found the couple's armored vehicle. They had tried to hide it in a warehouse space that was rented by Solis. He had reportedly told the manager of the warehouse that he worked for a business that repaired armored vehicles. The manager believed his story and never thought to question Solis further about the vehicle and left it alone. It had been a good cover story but once the vehicle was opened, investigators found several packages containing thousands of dollars from the casino. Investigators believed that the couple had not taken all of the money because it was probably too much to carry or transport out of town.
Turning herself in:
Heather Tallchief had managed to hide from authorities for many years by using a fake name. She had managed to work as a maid in the Netherlands to provide for herself and her son and they lived a very simple life. She was on the FBI’s most-wanted list for over 12 years, but Tallchief got tired of running at the age of 33. She turned herself into the police in September of 2005 and told them that she did it because she wanted a normal life for her ten-year-old son.
“I truly feel like it’s the right thing to do,”
Tallchief said at the office of a lawyer who was assisting in her case when asked about turning herself in.
Tallchief said that she did not know the whereabouts of her once-boyfriend Solis. She hadn’t spoken to him in many years and could not provide police any information to help locate him despite the pair having a child together. Tallchief said they separated almost a decade before she turned herself in, and reported to police that she was “under strict instructions” from Solis during the robbery and felt like she had to do what he said.
It is important to note that prior to the Circus Circus robbery Solis had spent 23 years in prison for murder during a botched armed robbery. By the time he had gotten out of prison, he was eager to commit his next crime and actually get away with it. Solis was and is a dangerous man, and some believe that Tallchief was just a young, innocent girl who was persuaded to commit a crime that she didn’t want to, but that is just a theory. Solis is about 60 years old now and still a wanted criminal on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
Where are they now?
Heather Tallchief’s family had been devastated by the news of what she had done. Her father, Fred Tallchief, had this to say about the robbery.
“It’s the loss of a child, whether she’s dead or she comes back and has to go to jail for 30 years. It was the loss of a child for me.”
Tallchief only served five years in federal prison before being released in 2010. Her attorney stated that she is living somewhere in Nevada and is continuing her sentence by serving five more years under house arrest. So, what happened to the money? Well, Tallchief reported that Solis did give her some of the money, but he kept most of it for himself. Most of the money that was stolen and Solis have yet to be found.