Saturday, January 08, 2005


Bummer about the reward, though

A man who was killed while attempting to rob a store last week was responsible for three recent rapes that had spread fear among students and workers in the city�s relatively safe downtown area, authorities said Wednesday. Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi said the state police DNA lab confirmed that Antonio Diaz Reyes, 32, was the rapist. �The DNA results were a perfect match,� Sarubbi said at a news conference.

The rapes in November and December were brazen daylight attacks at knifepoint. Investigators decided to check Reyes� DNA against samples taken after the three sexual assaults because the would-be robber used a method similar to the earlier attacks.

Reyes� death was captured on a store surveillance video. Authorities said he entered the Camden City Wireless and Fishing Supply store in East Camden on Friday afternoon and held the store owner�s wife at knifepoint. The owner, Ngoc Le, 28, saw what was happening, grabbed his gun, which was legally registered, and told Reyes he would let him live if he released his wife, atuhorities said. Reyes would not let the 26-year-old woman go and threatened to kill her. From about four feet away, Le fired the handgun once, hitting Reyes in the head. Reyes died at the scene.

Reyes was the 54th and final homicide victim in a deadly 2004 in a city that was named last by one crime analyst last year as the nation�s most dangerous. Le, who has an address in Philadelphia, will not be charged with any crimes, Sarubbi said. While authorities said they do not want to encourage vigilante justice, they did speak of his killer as a hero. �He was placed in the situation and he took the appropriate action,� said Camden Police Chief Edwin J. Figueroa.

But he was also unlikely to be eligible for a $30,000 reward offered by a Rutgers University�s Camden campus and a local law firm, Sarubbi said, because he did not give a tip that led to the arrest of the rapist.

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Nearly 36 hours after sheriff's deputies and officers began a manhunt for a Portland bank robbery suspect, an unemployed plumber caught the man and held him at gunpoint Wednesday night. Steven W. Driffill, 56, of West Valley, Utah, was apprehended about 5:30 p.m. at a residence in the 4400 block of Kalama River Road. Police believe Driffill robbed a branch of Sterling Savings in northeast Portland Tuesday and is the man who led them on a 100 mph chase up Interstate 5 to Kalama Tuesday morning.

When Leon Dalsing saw someone run behind a wood shed near his parents' home, he ran into the house, grabbed a .30-06 rifle, loaded it and ran out the front door. He confronted a man wearing a baseball cap and ordered him to his knees, he said. Meanwhile, his mother, Helen Dalsing, called 911, and Cowlitz County sheriff's deputies Brad Bright and Tory Shelton arrived a few minutes later to find Driffill on the ground with Dalsing holding him at gunpoint, according to Helen Dalsing.

Deputies found a 9 mm automatic pistol in Driffill's belt, according to Charlie Rosenzweig, chief criminal deputy for Cowlitz County. Rosenzweig said Driffill, who was soaking wet and had spent an icy night along the Kalama River, offered no resistance. Deputies believe that he spent some time in the river and crossed it at some point. Rosenzweig said Driffill complained about being cold, but he warmed up after he received dry clothes at the sheriff's office. He then was turned over to the FBI, which took him to a federal jail.

Authorities would not say whether Driffill had any stolen money. Investigators say Driffill may have been involved in Nov. 24 robberies in Tigard and Eugene, Ore. Rosenzweig said Driffill was arrested three miles from an abandoned Ford F150 pickup found Tuesday in the 1300 block of Modrow Road. The truck is the one involved in Tuesday's chase. "We received lots of tips, and this really paid off," Rosenzweig said, touting the "spirit of cooperation between the public and the sheriff's office that continues to pay big dividends in solving cases like this."

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