By Lookout Staff
February 13 -- After a ten-year manhunt, FBI agents on Wednesday arrested the fourth suspect in the highly publicized murder of a German tourist outside a Santa Monica beachfront hotel in October 1998.
Paul Carpenter, 31, was arrested Wednesday morning in Kingston, Jamaica, where he was living under a false identity, federal agents announced Thursday. Carpenter had started a family and was working as a driver at an auto dealership.
Carpenter had been a fugitive since he, along with his girlfriend and two male friends, allegedly shot and killed Horst Fietze during a botched robbery attempt near the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Fietze, 50, was walking back to his hotel from the beach with his wife and another couple.
A tipster who will receive a $20,000 reward alerted federal agents of the whereabouts of the elusive suspect, who is expected to be returned to Los Angeles on Friday, according to FBI officials.
Carpenter was charged in 1999 with one count of murder and three counts of attempted robbery, making him a candidate for the death penalty, according to officials at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
The other three suspects were convicted seven years ago following a five-day non-jury trial. Judge Lance Ito, the judge in the O.J. Simpson trial, found three defendants in the case guilty of killing Fietze.
Los Angeles resident Lamont Dion Santos, 23, was convicted of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted robbery after confessing to shooting Fietze. Tyrina Griffin, 20, and Roshana Latiesha Roberts, 21, were convicted of second-degree murder and three counts of attempted robbery.
Carpenter – who used 11 aliases and four birth dates -- remained at large, possibly travelling to San Diego and South Carolina before fleeing to Jamaica, where he lived among friends and had a 3-year-old child.
Carpenter would elude police for more than a decade in what was considered a classic "who-dun-it" that took investigators across the country to Oklahoma and South Carolina.
Carpenter’s name and face were plastered on the Internet and he was featured several times on the television show "America's Most Wanted."
In addition to being a suspect in the Fietze slaying, Carpenter was also wanted in Spartanburg County, South Carolina for car jacking, rape, assault with a firearm and arson.
But it was the killing of the German visitor, which chilled Santa Monica’s growing tourism industry, that put the spotlight of Carpenter, spurring him to flee the country and start a new life under an assumed identity.
The incident took place on October 12, 1998, when Feitze, his wife Astrid and another couple, Gisela and Jurgen Ulber, strolled along Appian Way behind Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel on the last night of what had been a long-anticipated vacation.
As they walked back to their hotel, Gisela commented on how pleasant and safe Santa Monica was, according to police. Moments later they were confronted with Santos, Carpenter and Griffin.
The suspects had been driving northbound on Appian Way in a stolen car looking for people to rob when they spotted the Feitzes and Ulbers walking southbound. Roberts, the alleged driver, made a U-turn and followed the couples.
Santos, Griffin and Carpenter got out of the car and approached the couples.
"Now there's going to be trouble," said Gisela Ulber who first spotted the robbers, according police.
Fietze did not seem to understand the robber’s demands, reportedly saying, "German. German. No dollars! No dollars!"
Carpenter attacked Jurgen Ulber, separating him from the group as Santos confronted Fietze.
After a brief struggle, Santos shot Fietze. As Fietze turned away, Santos shot him two more times. Santos confessed after he was arrested in South Carolina.
As Fietze lay dying, the three fled empty handed, police said.
Roberts, who had been waiting in the car, slowly moved it forward as the crime took place, police said. Afterwards the group sped south on Appian Way, then east on Pico Boulevard.
Police launched what they described as an intense investigation. With the help of a security video from Shutters on the Beach Hotel and Toyota engineers, police were able to identify the car as one stolen from a Santa Monica parking lot the day before and trace it back to Roberts who had fled the state.
On November 24, 1998 police spoke with Roberts' father in Enid, Oklahoma, who said his daughter had told him she had been involved in an attempted robbery. Roberts agreed to talk with police and initially denied knowledge of the murder.
Shortly thereafter Griffen was arrested in Los Angeles. In December of 1998 police learned that Santos had fled to Greenville, North Carolina. Police called him on the phone, and he denied knowledge of the murder but said he would talk.
On January 2, 1999, during a heavy storm, Santa Monica police arrested Santos at his cousin's apartment in North Carolina. Within minutes of being interviewed by police, Santos confessed to shooting Fietze, police said.