Surfside Beach bank robber sentenced to 15 years in jail

Richard McLeod, Jr. now faces four counts of robbing a bank (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)
Richard McLeod, Jr. now faces four counts of robbing a bank (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) The man accused of robbing the First Federal Bank inside the Surfside Beach Walmart last November pled guilty to bank robbery and has been sentenced to a decade and a half behind bars.

According to a press release from Martin D. Spratlin, Assistant Solicitor of the 15th Judicial Circuit, Richard McLeod, Jr. pled guilty to bank robbery on April 5 and was sentenced to 15 years behind bars with no parole.

On November 16, 2011, Horry County Police charged McLeod in connection to a robbery at the First Federal Bank inside the Surfside Beach Walmart. A day after his arrest for the Surfside Beach area robbery, Conway Police have charged McLeod in three other bank robberies.

Sgt. Robert Kegler said officers responded to the Walmart after someone reported the robbery the morning of Nov. 16. At the same time, other officers spread out in the area to patrol and look for the robber. Based on descriptions given by witnesses, an officer stopped McLeod as he walked in the Southwood neighborhood just south of the Walmart store. The officer arrested McLeod after finding a suspicious amount of money on the suspect.

In a news release from November 17, 2011, Catina Hipp with the Conway Police Department said officers charged Richard McLeod, Jr., 44, of Aynor with three counts of entering a bank, depository or building and loan association with the intent to steal. Those three charges come in addition to a count of the same charge from Horry County Police.

Conway Police believe McLeod is also responsible for the following three previous robberies within the city limits:

Oct. 28 at the Anderson Brothers Bank located at 2651 Church Street.

Oct. 31 at the First Federal Bank inside Walmart at 2709 Church Street.

Nov. 8 at the BB&T at 2300 Highway 501 East.

Hipp said Nov. 17 that detectives could not release information about how they linked McLeod to the robberies in Conway. However, because federal charges are also possible, the FBI is also investigating, and FBI Special Agent Jeff Long provided some insight into how the connections could be made.

Long said there was surveillance video from the robberies, and high quality images can often be helpful in identifying suspects. He said facial features can even been seen in some video, and similar clothing is even easier to see.

Long also said similar notes passed to the bank teller or similar verbal commands can quickly connect robberies to one suspect.

In regards to the Conway robberies in particular, Long said the robber always wore gloves. He also said there were similarities in the overall operation of each robbery. That has also been the case with a few other robberies this year that have been connected to a single suspect.

"The ones that we've had recently have pretty much been consistent with their clothing and the way they went about their bank robberies," Long said.

A criminal history check on McLeod showed he was convicted and sent to prison in 1991 for assault and battery with intent to kill. His sentence was 18 years, meaning he would have been released no later than 2009, but details on how much time McLeod actually spent in prison was not immediately available.

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