Clare Falke sat in her taxi and said, "I should have stayed home."
Instead Falke was at the downtown Biloxi Munro Petroleum waiting for her next passenger. Just before 10:30 a.m., a man carrying a backpack walked across Reynoir Street. "He walked up to the car, got in, wanted to know if I could take him to the Gulfport Grand. Sure no problem," she said. And off they went.
"Right about the time we hit Sharkheads," Falke remembered, "he decided he wanted to go to Treasure Bay."
Once at Treasure Bay, Biloxi police surrounded the cab and arrested the passenger, 65 year old Paul Edwin Martell. Police said the backpack Martell was carrying had stolen money in it from the downtown Biloxi Hancock Bank. The bank's lobby was closed for a short time after the holdup.
The cab driver said she had no idea her passenger just held up a bank. "I had no clue. Not until the cops followed me." At one point, nine police cars raced down Highway 90, trying to stop the cab. "The way they were following me," Falke said, "I knew something was up, I didn't know what, but I knew something was up."
At Treasure Bay, Biloxi police searched Falke's taxi, looking for other clues tied to Martell and the bank robbery.
An hour later, Clare Falke and her cab were back at Munro Petroleum. She hoped her next fare would be a little less eventful.
According to FBI records, this was the third coast bank robbery this year. Arrests were made in two of the cases. But the suspect in a holdup at Merchants and Marine Bank in Ocean Springs remains on the run.