Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong is most (in)famously known for her involvement in the notorious “pizza/collar bomber” episode that took place on August 28, 2003. But that’s not the only murder she’s been involved in. Our Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong wiki tells you what happened to this fascinating woman and gives you detailed insight into the inner workings of the mind of one of the most troubled and notorious female convicts in American history.
A Truly Bizarre Case
More than 15 years after one of the most bizarre and unorthodox cases the police and FBI have ever encountered occurred, the now-infamous “pizza bomber” aka “collar bomber” incident still confounds and captivates true crime enthusiasts all over the world. Rapt with intrigue and a lot of loose ends, this case wasn’t just big when it happened—it was everywhere.
|About Marjorie Diel-Armstrong|
It continues to fascinate people all these years later, and for the past 15 or so years, authors, documentarians and filmmakers have been doing their due diligence in trying to bring forth a resolution to a case that still has a lot of unanswered questions. The result is the four-part Netflix docuseries that was released on May 11, 2018.
At the center of the hoopla was Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. Though she wasn’t the only suspect in the case, she was the only one who was indicted and convicted in connection with the murder of Brian Wells, along with a slew of other charges.
Who Was Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong?
Marjorie Diehl was born on February 26, 1969 in Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania to Harold and Agnes Diehl.
She was considered to have an above-average level of intelligence with a high IQ, and got excellent grades while she was in school. Diehl attended Academy Park High School, graduating at the top of her class in 1967. Upon graduation, she was voted class valedictorian, a prevailing crowning achievement in her later years. Seemingly destined to accomplish great things in her life, Diehl was ranked 12th out of 413 in her graduating class.
A few years after high school, she enrolled in what was then known as Mercyhurst College (now Mercyhurst University) in 1970. By 1975, the young woman had earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and social work along with a master’s degree in education from Gannon College (now Gannon University).
Diehl had strong ambitions to work in the field of education where she could help cultivate and inspire young minds to make something of themselves. However, by that point, her mental illnesses—which had begun to present themselves at a prepubescent age—were starting to take over her life.
Plagued by Tragedy and Mental Illness
Diehl was an only child, a factor some speculate fostered an immense loneliness in her that was further perpetuated by her largely untreated mental illnesses.
She had a very close relationship with her mother. When Agnes died in 2000 at the age of 83, it hit Diehl—and that’s when her world truly began to unravel.
Five months after her mother’s passing, Diehl-Armstrong confided in a psychiatrist that “my mother was a very clean-living woman. I loved my mother. I have had differences with her, but she was all I had.”
Diehl had been diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, mania, personality disorder, and narcissism in her early 20s. As a young woman, she sensed that something wasn’t quite right with the way her mind worked and she decided to start seeing a psychiatrist.
These mental disorders combined with the trauma she suffered after the passing of her mother are all thoroughly documented in Jerry Clark and Ed Palattella’s 2017 book, Mania and Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong: Inside the Mind of a Female Serial Killer.
That’s right. Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong was a serial killer…and the Brian Wells’ killing wasn’t the first murder she was involved in.
A String of Dead Lovers
Looking back at her tumultuous love life, it’s safe to say that pretty much every man Diehl had ever been romantically connected to wound up dead, either by her hand or under extremely mysterious circumstances.
From a very young age, Diehl was considered an attractive woman in her hometown and she had a long line of men who were itching to date her to prove it. But there was no denying that she was also a very deeply mentally disturbed person. And she was very much aware of this fact, which is why she sought treatment.
Trey Borzillieri produced, researched, and conducted interviews for Evil Genius. He spent a great deal of time exchanging letters and speaking directly with Diehl-Armstrong, who extensively verbally abused him in the process.
“Obviously, she was a sociopath. Which made her a great liar,” he said. “That along with her mental issues. Like paranoia, mania, personality disorder. She was a tough woman who was constantly manipulating everyone in her path to get her own way. Because she was a narcissist, it was easy to get her to talk. But difficult to correct her. When she had any opposition, even a difference in opinion, she would approach it with reptilian indifference.”
If all of that is in fact true and she was the main orchestrator behind the pizza bombing heist, then it makes sense that she was able to convince so many people to do her bidding. But throughout the trial, Diehl-Armstrong maintained her innocence, despite the fact that she had a history of violence against men.
Let’s take a look at some of the men in her life and what happened to them.
In 1984, Diehl was charged with murdering her boyfriend, Robert Thomas. Reportedly, he was abusive toward her and she claimed in court that she acted in self-defense. She had shot him in the chest six times and pleaded temporary insanity. The jury acquitted her of all charges in 1988.
Both Thomas and Diehl had obvious mental and drug problems. They were living in complete squalor. Their apartment was beyond messy— there was hordes of rotting food all over the place, mainly cheese, and the house had never been cleaned. Diehl was known to be a massive hoarder, which was an indication of her worsening mental state.
Leonard Ambrose, Diehl’s court-appointed defense attorney at the time, believes that his former client “should have never been tried” in the Thomas case. Instead, he says, “she should have been institutionalized for the rest of her life, with maybe yearly reviews.”
Due to her quickly deteriorating mental state, Ambrose firmly believes that if the matter had been properly dealt with all those years ago, “there would have been no pizza bomber case” and that it was “inevitable” that his former client would reoffend.
In 1988, her then-husband, Richard Armstrong, suffered a fatal head injury. He was admitted to the hospital and eventually died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Foul play was never considered in this case, the body was never examined by a coroner, and no charges were brought up against Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. However, there are lingering suspicions to this day that she may have had something to do with her husband’s death.
Just a few short weeks after the infamous pizza bomber heist took place, an ex-fiancé and fishing buddy of Diehl-Armstrong’s named William Rothstein called the police to inform them that he had a dead body in his freezer.
He claimed that his ex, Diehl-Armstrong, murdered her boyfriend, James Roden, and asked Rothstein to hide the body for her until she could figure out what to do with it.
At the time, it seemed as if this murder was totally unrelated to the pizza bomber heist—until new information came to light linking all three individuals to the case.
As the story goes, the three of them allegedly were co-conspirators in planning the heist along with Brian Wells. A few weeks prior to the incident, Roden apparently got cold feet and threatened to inform the police about their plans.
Diehl-Armstrong allegedly shot Roden to death and then contacted Rothstein because she said she needed help disposing of the body. Rothstein agreed to temporarily store the body in his freezer and even helped her dispose of all of the evidence, including the shotgun she’d used to kill Roden.
He told police that he couldn’t bring himself to grind up the body and he decided to call them because he feared Diehl-Armstrong.
Rothstein passed away in July 2004 due to complications from lymphoma.
Brian Wells, the man who became synonymous with the pizza bombing incident on August 28, 2003, was outwardly a mild-mannered and very polite person. He was a creature of habit who enjoyed long scavenger hunts, chatting with his neighbors, and spending time with his three cats.
At the time, Wells had been working as a pizza delivery man at an Erie, Pennsylvania pizza place, Mamma Mia Pizzeria. He’d had the job for almost three decades.
That day in August, the pizzeria got a call requesting two pizzas to be delivered to 8631 Peach St. The address wasn’t actually a home; it was a TV transmission tower. But it happened to be up the road from William Rothstein’s place.
When Wells arrived at the TV tower with the pizzas, he either met with co-conspirators or was attacked by Diehl-Armstrong’s crew, depending on which version you believe.
The collar bomb was placed around his neck and he was given complex written instructions on what to do next, which was in essence a criminal scavenger hunt. He was also given a shotgun masquerading as a cane.
The scavenger hunt consisted of tasks that Wells, referred to as the “Bomb Hostage” in the notes, had to complete to delay and finally defuse the bomb. If he contacted police, he’d be killed.