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Brian Witham and Michael Benanti held Valerie Yussman hostage forcing Matthew Yussman to rob a bank: ID investigates

Mugshots of Brian Witham and Michael Benanti
Brian Witham and Michael Benanti were convicted of multiple armed bank extortions across several states. Pic credit: FBI

Investigation Discovery is examining the case of Matthew Yussman and his mother, Valerie Yussman, who were held captive by Brian Witham and Michael Benanti at their home in Bristol, Connecticut, in 2014.

The violent career criminals then tried to force Matthew to rob the bank where he worked in New Britain, Connecticut. The attempted heist failed, but Witham and Benanti continued to commit similar crimes across multiple states.

In February 2015, Brian Witham and Michael Benanti attacked Matthew Yussman in his garage as he returned to his Bristol, CT., home after a hockey game. The vicious duo then strapped Matthew’s mother, Valerie Yussman, to a bed and held them captive for an entire night.

The next morning, Witham and Benanti strapped what appeared to be an explosive device to Matthew and ordered him to go to the credit union where he worked in New Britain and clear out the vault of millions of dollars. The terrified Matthew did as he was told, but on the way to the credit union, he telephoned his boss, who then alerted the cops.

The police caught up to Yussman in the parking lot of the credit union. They eventually determined that the device strapped to Yussman’s chest was very sophisticated-looking but was also a fake.

Yussman recounted his terrifying ordeal to the investigators, but his problems weren’t quite over just yet as he spent the next year as a suspect in the crime. The police wondered if he was a so-called inside man.

Ultimately, the cops concluded that Yussman was a victim. Witham and Benanti had tracked his social media accounts to get an idea of his daily routine. His house was sheltered from view from his neighbors by a lack of windows and the high snowfall. But despite the meticulous planning, the heist was a botched attempt.

Brian Witham and Michael Benanti were caught by the FBI

Undeterred, the criminal pair went on to commit further crimes involving the armed robbery of banks before the FBI eventually caught up to them in Tennessee.

Eventually, Witham pleaded guilty to multiple charges of armed bank extortions. As well as the Connecticut case, he admitted to carrying out similar crimes in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. He then turned on his accomplice and the so-called “mastermind” of the crimes and testified against Benanti.

Benanti was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences with an additional 155 years in a federal prison. He will die behind bars. Due to his help in testifying against Benanti, the judges and prosecution were more lenient with Witham giving him 30 years with no parole behind bars.

More from Investigation Discovery

Follow the links to read about more devastating crimes profiled on ID.

Kirby Archer persuaded Guillermo Zarabozo to help him hijack and kill the crew of a charter boat called the Joe Cool in order to escape US justice and flee to Cuba. The truth came out when they were forced to abandon the ship and were picked up by the US Coast Guard.

Theophilus Brooks brutally murdered Erica Vassell after a Super Bowl party in Clewiston, Florida, in 2011. He then dumped her remains by the side of the road in a neighboring county.

The Bomb and the Bank Robbery airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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