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Ripple Effect of Bank Robbery Disrupted Lives : 'Routine' Crime Haunts Survivors

February 07, 1988|GEORGE ESPER | Associated Press

EAST ALLEN TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Thomas Marchetto had no intention of stopping at the small branch bank here that morning. He was headed to another bank but came upon the office nearer his home and stopped to open a checking account.

Inside, the first desk he approached was that of Jane Hartman, who also might have been somewhere else. She wasn't to have started her new job as a customer representative until the next week, but had finished training ahead of schedule. It was her fourth day.

Forty minutes after introducing himself to Hartman, Marchetto completed his business and stood to say goodby. In another minute he would have been out the door.

But two new "customers" had just walked in.

"The first sounds I heard sounded almost as though someone had set off firecrackers," Marchetto recalled. "As I turned to the teller area, my eyes caught a glimpse of a man swinging toward my direction."

Glinting Gun

What caught Marchetto's eye was the glinting, chrome-plated gun that one of the two men was firing. "There was a lot of screaming," Marchetto said. "More shots went off."

Jane Hartman, 33, died in the fusillade of bullets during the robbery at the East Allen Township branch of the First National Bank of Bath. So did two tellers, Hazel Evans, 55, and Janice Confer, 48.

Marchetto, 39, the only customer in the bank, was wounded in the right leg and left arm. He survived by playing dead. Marcia Hauser, 32, the bank manager, was seriously wounded. Two other employees, who were in a back room, escaped through a rear door.

The gunmen, Martin Appel and Stanley Hertzog, both 29 and both cab drivers in nearby Allentown, fled with $2,286.43. But one of the employees who slipped out the back door gave authorities the license number and a description of the getaway car. Appel and Hertzog were arrested within three hours near Appel's mobile home less than 10 miles from the bank.

Today, many months after the June 6, 1986, robbery, the physical and emotional scars are still evident among survivors and families of the dead.

"I'll never forget the screaming and shooting," Marchetto said. "It was constant."

He still gets physical therapy four or five days a week, trying to regain the use of his left arm, which was immobilized when a bullet severed a nerve. He has had surgery twice and is scheduled for more. He returned to work as a chemist six months after the shooting.

Relearning Skills

"I'm a left-hander and I've learned to become a right-hander both in writing and whatever has to be done," he said. "One of my big hobbies was woodworking. I don't do any of that right now for fear of using a saw one-handed. Instead of playing baseball, I coach."

Marchetto had separated from his wife four months before the robbery. His four children, aged 7 to 14 years, live with him. Nine-year-old Timmy has written about his father being shot in some of his school reports.

"I probably enjoy getting up in the mornings a lot more now than I ever did before," Marchetto said. "I don't take certain things for granted. There's just a sense of gratification of being alive."

Jane Hartman left a husband, a daughter and a son.

"I made the kids pick out the coffin and the gravesite to make them accept the fact that it happened," recalled her husband, Bob Hartman, tears welling up.

"I used to tell my mom everything," said Amy, a 14-year-old high school freshman.

"It's a lot harder," said Bobby, a 15-year-old sophomore and tackle on the football team. "It's just like she's not around when I need her."

At age 62, Jane Hartman's mother, Violet Hagemes, sometimes puts in 16-hour days as a nurse to keep busy. She worked this past Christmas Eve so she could keep her mind off previous holidays when the family went to candlelight services and then to Jane's home to open gifts.

Hagemes visits her daughter's grave every day. Before going to bed, she looks at Jane's picture on the nightstand.

"Not a day goes by that I don't cry. I kiss her good night and tell her I love her. They tell me it gets easier as time goes on, but it doesn't."

Unable to Work

The bank manager, Marcia Hauser, hasn't been able to work. She said Hertzog fired one bullet into her right leg. Then, as she held her hands up to her head to protect herself, a second bullet tore through her wrists into her head from ear to ear.

She suffered permanent blindness in her right eye and a broken leg and arm, which still cause her pain. She filed a civil suit against Appel and Hertzog in December seeking more than $20,000 in damages.

Last July 4, she was working in her yard when firecrackers triggered a flashback. "I broke out in tears and came running back into the house," she said. "The guns that went off that day sounded like firecrackers. That face (Hertzog's) I'll never forget."

Hertzog is serving a life sentence.

Appel, who described the three bank employees he pleaded guilty to killing as "simply obstacles in my way," asked for the death penalty and was sentenced to the electric chair.

He is on Death Row at the State Correctional Institution in Huntingdon, awaiting a mandatory review of his case by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He declined a written request for an interview.

But in a handwritten statement released to the press shortly after the robbery, he said: "I feel that only by my death can I somewhat atone for the deaths of the others."

In a letter to the Morning Call newspaper of Allentown, a year after the crime, he said he agreed with the death sentence and did not want any appeals.

"The case is very cut and dry," he said. "I can't imagine why the justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court are taking so long to uphold the . . . sentence. . . . I don't think they have the courage to execute me. The state is afraid to carry out their own laws."

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