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Who Is Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong? New Details About The Woman From 'Evil Genius' On Netflix

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marjorie diehl armstrong

Every once in a while, a show comes along that makes it impossible to leave the couch. (Think: Making A Murderer.) The most recent one that’s sweeping Netflix by storm? Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist. And if you haven’t yet binged the show, then what are you doing with your life?

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Without giving away too much, the true crime documentary follows the events that took place in Erie, PA in the summer of 2003. The “pizza bomber” case, as it’s known, involved a man named Brian Wells who robbed a bank, was cornered by police, where it was revealed he had a collar bomb attached to his neck. And yes, the bomb detonated.


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The bizarre turn-of-events was then linked to another case, in which a deceased man’s body was discovered in a freezer, introducing us to a lengthy and complicated story.

But what — or who — was the link between the two cases? A woman named Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. Dubbed the mastermind behind the heist, she was sentenced to prison for her involvement. But who is Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong exactly?

1. She was a musical prodigy.


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Before her spiral downward, Diehl-Armstrong was a gifted musician. Friends also described her as someone who could light up a room, who was very captivating. She was a highly intelligent student, graduating at the top of her class ... until mental illness took hold of her.

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2. But she had a long history of mental illness.

In her 20s, Diehl-Armstrong knew there was something wrong with her and sought help from psychiatrists. After seeing dozens of doctors, she had multiple diagnoses: bipolar disorder, mania, and one physician even diagnosed her with narcissism. She was also a hoarder from an early age.

Evil Genius producer Trey Borzillieri, who had been in contact with Diehl-Armstrong for over a decade and was the driving force behind the documentary, said, “Obviously she was a sociopath. Which made her a great liar. That along with her other mental issues. Like paranoia, mania, personality disorder. She was a tough woman who was constantly manipulating everyone in her path to get her own way... Because she was a narcissist it was easy to get her to talk. But difficult to correct her. When she had any opposition, even a difference in opinion, she would approach it with reptilian indifference.”

3. She murdered three of her lovers.


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Remember the body of a deceased man in a freezer? The man turned out to be Diehl-Armstrong’s boyfriend, James Roden. Roden was shot in the head and stuffed in the freezer. She was later convicted and sentenced to 30 years for the murder.

But back in 1984, she was charged with killing her boyfriend Robert Thomas, shooting him six times, and was later acquitted on grounds of self-defense. Her husband Richard Armstrong died after hitting his head on the coffee table, but was never investigated further.

4. And she had plans to murder her father.

After her father gave her money, Diehl-Armstrong bought two homes and a classic car, but due to her illness and hoarding tendencies, it all went to waste. Her father cut her off financially. Feeling her father was wasting "her" inheritance money, Diehl-Armstrong wanted him out of the picture. 

She wanted to hire a hitman to take her dad out, but where was she going to get that much money? Thus, the bank heist plot developed and investigators say this could have been the main motive behind setting up the heist: cash to pay a hitman to off her father. Kenneth Barnes, another co-conspirator in the bank heist plot, told police that Diehl-Armstrong had approached him, asking him to kill her father.

5. She died in prison.


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Though Diehl-Armstrong was charged with a life sentences plus 30 years for both the heist and Brian Wells’ death, she passed away in April 2017. While serving time at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, she died of breast cancer at age 68, leaving many unanswered questions.

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Samantha Maffucci is an associate editor for YourTango. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.