Who Is Brian Wells? New Details About The Victim In 'Evil Genius' On Netflix

We may never know the whole story.

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‘Evil Genius’ on Netflix has become our latest obsession. The 4-episode true crime documentary tells the tale of a bank heist plot that resulted in the death of one man, and the start of an endless series of questions, some of which are still unanswered almost 15 years later.

Though the documentary talks about the alleged mastermind, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, and a gaggle of co-conspirators, like Bill Rothstein, what about the plot’s victim, Brian Wells? Was he an accomplice — or was he ambushed and forced to carry out a heist he couldn’t possibly have successfully performed? Who is Brian Wells, the man with the collar bomb around his neck?


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

1. He worked as a pizza delivery man for over 30 years.

After dropping out of high school in 1973 when he was 16 (later getting his GED), Wells got a job at Mama Mia Pizzeria in Erie, PA. Both employees and owners of the pizzeria say he was a trusted worker.


2. His father died when he was young.

Upon Harold Wells’ death due to multiple sclerosis when he was only 60 years old, his wife was left to raise their five children. This tragedy may have caused Wells to drop out after receiving failing grades.

3. Wells was of normal intelligence and had good grades.

According to an Erie District School psychological study, his verbal IQ was 100 and performance IQ was 120, which was higher than 90 percent of the population. He obtained straight As until he entered middle school.

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4. He was well liked.


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According to neighbors and friends, Wells was described as hardworking and reliable. He enjoyed a routine, awaking at the same time every morning, reading the local paper, eating breakfast at McDonald’s, and then going to work.


5. He certainly didn’t know it was a live bomb around his neck.

When he entered PNC Bank and demanded $250,000, he was calm, even grabbing a lollipop before leaving with less than $9,000 in cash. And as police surrounded him while he sat cross-legged in a parking lot, he didn’t realize the bomb was real until it started beeping, eventually detonating.

After investigation, it was revealed that even if Wells had completed the “scavenger hunt,” the bomb was rigged in a way that it would have detonated if he attempted to remove it. He was going to die no matter what.

6. We may never know for sure whether he was in on the bombing.

While co-conspirators claim that Wells was a part of the heist, his actions are confusing. Would someone who was aware of the heist act in this manner? On the other hand, neighbors described Wells as “almost child-like”; could his mental state be an explanation for his behavior?

7. But his family maintains he was innocent.


Photo: AP/The Erie Times-News

His sister Jean said that Wells was “innocent 100 percent ... They screwed up big time. They let an innocent man, my brother, die while in their custody and they didn't even lift a finger to help him. This case is going to be looked at for years to come, and they don't want it known that they screwed up. Brian never would have done this.”

8. A prostitute was responsible for involving Wells in the plot.

When Jessica Hoopsick, a hooker and intimate friend of Wells, was interviewed for ‘Evil Genius’, she told Trey Borzillieri, co-producer of the series, she was approached to find a “gopher” who could be scared into robbing a bank. One of the co-conspirators, which she identified as Kenneth Barnes, paid her $5,000 to lure Brian Wells into delivering a pizza to Marjorie and Rothstein.


Desperate for money to fuel her addiction, she told Barnes that Wells was a pushover. In the documentary, she expressed regret for her actions, and revealed that Wells didn’t have any prior knowledge of the heist. She said, “I have a lot of remorse for a lot of the stuff I did and a lot of shame and guilt. I definitely want justice for Brian’s memory. He wasn’t out to hurt nobody. He had no parts in the planning. He had no idea what was going to happen to him.”

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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.