Crime & Courts

Bank robbery suspect stopped but not detained by police, in Charleston Wednesday, cops say

A convicted felon sought in Tuesday’s armed robbery at a Forest Acres bank is no longer believed to be in the Forest Acres area, the police chief said Wednesday. But he was still in South Carolina, according to the State Law Enforcement Division, or SLED.

Samuel Levone Neathery “is or was in the Charleston area,” Wednesday morning, SLED spokesman Thom Berry told The State.

The search for Neathery included a plane, helicopter and officers and K-9s on the ground Tuesday. On Wednesday morning Forest Acres Police Chief Marion Sealy said police believe he “is no longer in the Forest Acres area.”

But law enforcement did come into contact with Neathery after the robbery.

A Columbia Police Department officer briefly stopped Neathery but did not detain him because he changed his clothes, Sealy told The State.

“The officer encountered him after the robbery and interviewed him, but let him go because he had changed his appearance,” Sealy said. “He removed the blue hoodie and sunglasses he was wearing in the bank, and that surveillance photo was all we had.”

The Columbia Police Department echoed Sealy’s comment.

“The man we talked with did not match the description initially provided by 911 communicators and was walking toward the crime scene, not away,” Columbia Police Department public information officer Jennifer Timmons told The State. “He was calm, and wasn’t suspicious in any way. He was cooperative.”

Timmons said that cooperation included Neathery providing police with his real name and date of birth. Officers ran that information into the NCIC crime database and there were no outstanding warrants, according to Timmons.

“It came back clear, there was no lawful reason to arrest him,” Timmons said. “Once we had a more accurate description, we were able to connect the dots.”

Neathery, a convicted robber from Florida, now has a warrant for armed robbery from Tuesday’s incident at the S.C. Federal Credit Union on Forest Drive, Sealy said.

Officers from several agencies searched the area throughout the day Tuesday and into the night. It was unclear Wednesday morning where Neathery is believed to be, if he’s no longer in the Forest Acres area.

“We have had tracking teams out since the robbery itself and we are continuing the search for this individual,” Berry said Wednesday morning. “As long as we believe that he is in the state, we will continue the search.”

Neathery was convicted of armed robbery in Florida in 2009, law enforcement records show.

Forest Acres Police Department

On Wednesday night, the female suspect in the bank robbery was identified by Forest Acres police as Daisy Esther Feliberty.

The 35-year-old Kissimmee, Florida woman was shot while she and Neathery tried to escape police responding to the bank Tuesday, officials said. She was hospitalized, and once she was released, Feliberty was taken to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

Feliberty was charged with armed robbery, six counts of kidnapping, possession of a deadly weapon in the commission of a violent crime, and possession of a stolen handgun, Forest Acres Police said in a news release.

Berry said SLED also continues to investigate the officer-involved shooting.

Under South Carolina law, armed robbery carries a minimum 10-year prison sentence and a maximum of 30 years. However, robbing a bank is a federal offense that carries up to 20 years in federal prison.

It was unclear Wednesday morning if the FBI is involved in the search, and an FBI spokesperson could not be immediately reached.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.