A local bank manager and and his family -- held hostage as part of a bizarre robbery plot -- shared their terrifying story with FOX 8 News.
In November 2015, Katie McConnell, 35, was stunned to discover that a man had broken into her home in Richland County and was holding her at gunpoint. Sensing that her two small children were terrified, McConnell decided to pretend the intruder was part of a game.
"Oh my gosh, this is going to be so fun; I was like, 'this is going to be a super fun Halloween game and when it's all over, you're going to get a big prize.'"
The gunman, later identified as Taylor Crisman, 18, did not not speak but gave McConnell a series of notes that revealed the reason for the break-in.
"And it said, you know, 'if you don't do what I say, I will kill you and your family.'"
It turned out that Crisman and his partner in crime, Chris Hill, 23, targeted the family because McConnell's husband was the manager of the Key Bank in nearby Ontario and the suspects intended to hold the family hostage and force Brian McConnell to withdraw a large amount of cash from the bank.
"I was just in shock. I couldn't believe that this was happening to me in Galion, Ohio; like it was like extreme terror, an out-of-body experience."
"I walked in the door and I saw someone in a mask, bandanna, stepping back and I thought it was a Halloween prank or something at first," said Brian McConnell.
He said when he realized that his wife and children were being held hostage, he decided he would do whatever he could to protect them. Brian McConnell convinced Crisman to allow his wife and children to go to another part of the home and tried to convince Crisman that the scheme to force McConnell to take his co-workers as hostages the next morning would not work. "Trying to explain that people don't get away with this kind of thing; they almost always get caught or killed and, you know, he said 'if I die, I die.'"
The suspect allowed Brian McConnell to go to the bank alone the next morning before it opened; he returned to the home with all of the cash from the vault. Then as Crisman began counting the money on the family's couch, McConnell decided to go for his gun.
"He yelled 'no' and attacked me. We had a scuffle, went through a couple of rooms, until I finally fought him off of me, and was holding the gun on him."
McConnell said he thought about shooting Crisman or calling the police, but fearing that his accomplices would then harm the family or co-workers and their families, he allowed Crisman to leave unharmed with the duffel bag full of cash from the bank; he then called police.
Because of the unusual nature of the crime, some members of law enforcement were initially suspicious that the McConnells somehow had something to do with it, that it was a so-called inside job. But the couple was quickly cleared, when they each took and passed a polygraph test.
The McConnells were relieved when Crisman and Hill were arrested a month later. But, they were angry that Hill, a bank customer, had hatched the hostage and robbery plan after Brian McConnell helped him with a problem he was having as the result of a fraud case.
The McConnells then learned Hill's girlfriend, a juvenile court employee, used a law enforcement computer to give Hill and Crisman the McConnells home address.
"It's despicable what she did; I mean, she knew that no good was going to come from it, regardless if she knew that there was going to hostages or a bank was going to be robbed or anything," said Brian.
Brian and Katie are now being treated for post traumatic stress disorder. Brian is no longer able to work at the bank in Ontario and, as a result of issues that have arisen from the terrifying ordeal, the couple has decided to get a divorce.
"Made us drift apart, and I think sometimes, these things can either bring you together or they can tear you apart and unfortunately, that's what happened for us," Katie said.