A Quebec man who makes some of the “most realistic masks in the world,” helped the FBI connect a string of bank robberies committed by a well-disguised suspect to a man charged with assault and murder.
Ian Marier, the owner of St-Hubert, Que. based Realflesh Masks, said he got involved in the investigation after an American customer of his spotted photos issued by police asking for the public’s help identifying a suspect in bank robberies in the Philadelphia area.
“What was on that picture was one of our masks,” he told CBC’s Daybreak. “I contacted the FBI with that picture and a picture of my mask and they realized they were looking for the wrong guy."
Realflesh Masks makes high-end costume and Hollywood-style masks, both realistic and surreal.
Mareir boasts that his creations are “the most realistic masks in the world,” so much so that the wearer seems to disappear behind them.
The mask in question is a model called “The Neighbour” and Marier recognized it immediately because each one is hand-painted and this particular one had nearly $1,500 worth of customization, including hair which is added follicle by follicle.
“On the picture, it’s clear. Clear as water,” he said.
“I called the FBI and sent them all the information I had because it was in Philadelphia, with that particular mask, The Neighbour mask with fully bunched hair, that we sold in Philadelphia two weeks before the actual bank robberies.”
Marier forwarded the name and address of the customer who ordered the mask to investigators in July.
It wasn’t until October 19 that police arrested Dion Jordan, the man investigators have charged in connection with the masked robberies.
High-speed chase, assault lead to arrest
Jordan is now also facing a number of more serious charges, including murder and aggravated assault.
He was arrested after he allegedly arranged to test drive a car and then took the seller hostage and demanded a ransom for his release, according to the Philadelphia police.
After a high-speed chase, in which he hit a fence, Jordan was taken into custody.
'We sell it to people who do pranks, jokes, high-end Halloween costumes. That’s basically our business, but right now unfortunately, something bad happened.' - Ian Marier, RealFlesh Masks owner
While in custody, police charged him with the murder of a 49-year-old man whose body had been found two days earlier.
He was also charged with three bank robberies, which took place between June and September.
At the time, police described the suspect in those robberies as “a white male in his 50s or 60s, 5’10” tall, heavy build, wearing a light blue shirt, a dark jacket, sunglasses, and yellow or tan work gloves.”
Jordan is 35 years old and African-American. Investigators now believe he was wearing the mask when the robberies happened.
Marier said it’s always in the back of his mind that his masks could be used for nefarious purposes, but he said this is the first time anything like this has ever happened.
“We’ve sold thousands of masks. It’s not something common,” he said.
“We sell it to people who do pranks, jokes, high-end Halloween costumes. That’s basically our business, but right now unfortunately, something bad happened.”
It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that your work is good enough to fool seasoned investigators, said Marier.
“I don’t want people to use our masks to commit crimes, but now it’s like proof that we do something really spectacular,” he said.
“I would just hope that something like that would never happen again.”