Jeffrey Edward Ownby

Social media sends Medford bank robber to prison

A Medford man who'd had no prior criminal history before social media tips led to his capture has been sentenced to more than 16 years in federal prison for three armed bank robberies.

Jeffrey Edward Ownby, 30, was sentenced to 198 months prison in U.S. District Court in Eugene Thursday on bank robbery and weapons convictions. In September, Ownby admitted he stole more than $16,000 in three separate incidents between May 2014 and April 2015, one of which involved a sawed-off shotgun.

On May 16, 2014, a disguised Ownby fled the Bank of the Cascades branch at 3100 Crater Lake Highway with $5,878 after brandishing a handgun, swinging it around and ordering everyone inside to get on the ground, telling them "you know what this is."

On Dec. 22, 2014, Ownby brandished a handgun at the American West Bank at 600 N. Biddle Road before taking $7,969. He disguised himself by wearing a fake beard, camouflage head covering and glasses and, similarly to the first robbery, told the tellers "you know exactly what this is" as he pointed the handgun at them.

His last robbery was April 1, 2015, at American West Bank, 3369 Crater Lake Highway, where he stole $2,375. He again wore a disguise and made a similar statement, but this time pulled a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun from a backpack and pointed it at bank employees.

In September, Ownby pleaded guilty to three counts of armed bank robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon made from a shotgun, unlawful possession of a destructive device and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm in connection with a violent crime.

Ownby was among the earliest suspects Medford police tracked down with the help of the department's then recently created Facebook page. Former co-workers of Ownby reported him as a likely suspect after seeing the social media post.

Police served a search warrant at Ownby's Medford home and found the sawed-off shotgun and most of the money stolen the day before. They also found Molotov cocktails in a bag in Ownby's truck, along with the disguises.

Police said Ownby confessed to the three bank robberies and told them he had pawned the handgun used in the first two robberies. The gun was recovered by police at a local pawnshop.

The case was investigated by Medford police and the FBI and was prosecuted by Judith Harper and Byron Chatfield, assistant U.S. attorneys for the District of Oregon.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at or 541-776-4471. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

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