A decade-long search to find all persons wanted in connection with the fatal shooting more than ten years ago of a German tourist in Santa Monica has ended with the arrest of the last outstanding suspect in the case, authorities said.
Paul Edmond Carpenter, 31, was arrested Wednesday, February 11th, by FBI detectives, in collaboration with U.S. Marshals and Jamaican law enforcement in Kingston, Jamaica, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. Carpenter, who had been working as a courtesy driver at a BMW dealership in Jamaica for several years, had reportedly been using a false name while living in the country, Eimiller said.
He was the last remaining suspect in the October 12th, 1998 shooting death of tourist Horst Fietze, who was visiting Santa Monica with his wife and some friends. Carpenter, his girlfriend, and two other suspects allegedly attempted to rob the group of tourists near the Loews Santa Monica Beach hotel when Fietze was fatally shot, according to the FBI.
Three of the four suspects were arrested by Santa Monica police detectives and were subsequently convicted in the case, but Carpenter had not been apprehended, traveling within the U.S. before fleeing the country, police said. Santa Monica police who have been active in the case said they were pleased to learn that Carpenter had finally been arrested more than ten years after the incident struck the city.
“It’s certainly gratifying to know that he’s finally in our custody, not only for us but to know that we can tell the victim’s family and friends that [the suspect] has finally been apprehended and will be brought to justice,” said Lt. Ray Cooper, who along with Detective John Henry were the lead Santa Monica officers working the case.
Former Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts, who served at the time of the murder, also expressed some relief, particularly for Fietze’s family, after hearing of Carpenter’s capture.
“This gives me a great sense of release and happiness for Horst’s widow,” said Butts, who is now deputy director of law enforcement for Los Angeles World Airports. “I had a lot of contact with his wife after the event happened and we promised her that we would bring justice for Horst.”
After his arrest, Carpenter was deported to the U.S. by Jamaican authorities and is in Santa Monica police custody on no bail, according to the county Sheriff’s Department. The county District Attorney’s Office charged Carpenter in February 1999 with one count of murder and three counts of attempted second-degree robbery, district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Carpenter was scheduled to be arraigned at the Superior Court Airport Courthouse Wednesday, February 18th. Prosecutors have not determined if they will seek the death penalty in the case, Robison said.
Following the 1998 murder of Fietze, police said they sought the assistance of the FBI, which obtained a federal arrest warrant for Carpenter and later offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture. Eimiller said the reward generated several leads, including information that led to Carpenter’s location in Jamaica.
The investigation involved several agencies including the FBI Fugitive Task Force, U.S. Marshals, the Jamaican Constabulary Force, the FBI’s Legal Attache in the Dominican Republic and Santa Monica police.
Butts referred to the dedication of detectives in seeing that all of those wanted for the fatal shooting were apprehended. Such efforts included posting an alert, along with a photo of Carpenter, on the Santa Monica police Web site in the years following the incident.
“Throughout my tenure we were relentless in bringing justice to the families of victims of homicides,” Butts said.
The death of Fietze was among a series of homicides that struck the city that year. The incident received international attention because it involved tourists in a city of high tourism, and Butts noted that the reaction to the case “became symbolic of what public safety meant in our community.”