Mother Forced To Rob Bank To Save Kidnapped Daughter Shares Her Story Over Twenty Years Later

On the night of November 21st, in the year 2000, a masked man and woman entered the home of Michelle Renee in San Diego County, California. After binding her and her 7-year-old daughter, Breea, with duct tape, and with guns at their heads, the duo explained what they wanted.

“It was very much that mind control thing that they were doing, that, ‘we know everything about you,'” Renee said in an interview with CBS. They told her that they knew her day-to-day routine, and that she was a branch manager at a nearby bank. “You’re gonna rob the bank for us,” she remembers them telling her. “Or you will die, your daughter will go first.”

The following morning, Renee walked out of the bank with $360,000. After handing the money over to the masked couple, she ran back to her home, terrified about what she may find. “I don’t know if Breea’s gonna be there,” Renee thought. “I don’t know if she’s gonna be alive when I get there.”

Fortunately, Breea was there when Renee returned to her home. After a bomb squad examined the “dynamite,” they determined that they had been fake- made out of two broomstick handles that were painted and taped together to look like dynamite. Christopher Butler and his fiancée Lisa Ramirez, were later arrested for kidnapping and bank robbery.

In June, 2002, the suspects were tried together in two trials. Despite Ramirez previously confessing to the crime on camera, the judge ruled it inadmissible in court. The defendant’s lawyer then attacked Renee’s credibility, suggesting she was somehow involved. “They treated me like a criminal,” Renee explained. “They were trying to paint me as somebody that was irresponsible.” After five days of deliberation, the jury found Butler guilty of the robbery and kidnapping, but Ramirez was not, and left a free woman.

In an interview with Tracy Smith, Renee will be sharing her story on CBS’ “48 Hours,” on February 11th at 10/9c, and streaming on Paramount+.

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