Frederick S. Laird, who made headlines in Utah after allegedly kidnapping an 11-year-old Orem girl three weeks ago, is now the focus of an intensive manhunt by police in California and FBI officials.
Laird has been pegged as a suspect in a brutal rape that took place in a small California town on July 13."We have his picture plastered all over the county. Everybody's looking for him," Tiburon Police Sgt. Laura Judd told the Deseret News Thursday.
"Hopefully our next news release will say we've got him."
Tiburon, an affluent community of about 9,000 residents, is a quiet suburb of San Francisco, located on the north side of the San Francisco Bay. The attack that occurred Monday afternoon has attracted the attention of millions of people in the area, Judd said.
"We don't have violent crimes like this very often. It's unusual," she said. "We've received close to 100 phone calls from citizens with sightings and information about this case. We have a lot of leads, and now it's a matter of prioritizing them. We have a small department of about 15, so when something like this hits, it makes it tough. The FBI has been an enormous help."
Laird, 38, is being sought in connection with a variety of crimes in three states. His alleged spree began June 25 when he allegedly abducted his cousin, Chelsea Lund, from outside her Orem home and took her to several locations in the southern Utah desert. On June 30, she managed to free herself from her abductor when he dropped her off near an I-15 onramp. The girl walked to a gas station, phoned her mother, and returned home later that evening.
Meanwhile, Laird continued eluding police. The following day, a woman in Las Vegas noticed a suspicious man near her apartment complex, police say. Her residence was broken into and her car was stolen. The vehicle that Laird had been driving in Utah, a gray Nissan Sentra, was left at the scene of the theft.
Police believe Laird surfaced in Tiburon almost two weeks later. Judd says the suspect in the rape responded to a woman's newspaper ad seeking roommates. When the man arrived at the apartment at 2 p.m., he was wielding an 8-inch kitchen knife.
After entering the residence, he tied up the woman with duct tape, beat her and raped her repeatedly, Judd said. The victim told police that the attacker was looking for money and she told him to take her car. The man then bound, gagged and hogtied the woman and left her in a closet before fleeing in the woman's car, described as a black, four-door 1992 Nissan Maxima GTE with Georgia license plates.
Eventually, the woman was able to wriggle free and call police. At the scene, police recovered the car that was stolen in Las Vegas, which had plates that were reported stolen in San Bernardino, Calif., on July 2. Judd said police found pieces of evidence in the car, such as a gas receipt from Utah, that they believe may link Laird to the crimes.
The suspect also took the victim's credit cards. "He used them extensively immediately after the crime," Judd said.
According to the FBI, the suspect used the credit cards four times, most recently in Anaheim, Calif., before the account was closed.
The Orem Police Department was contacted Wednesday about the situation in California and the possible connection to the kidnapping. Sgt. Gary Downey said he is in contact with local FBI officials for the latest information about Laird.
Dea Lund, Chelsea's mother, says news of Laird's recent activities has been disturbing.
"We're really upset," she said. "Chelsea was starting to get back to playing with her friends and having a normal life, and this news has brought back those memories. She's doing fine, but she's a little worried."
Dea Lund is also looking forward to Laird's capture. "We don't want him to upset any more people. We're anxious for him to be caught," she said.