Shoe tread, tip helped in investigationWhen Detective Devin Alfson went to give official court testimony this week in the Davison County Public Safety Center, something caught his eye. It was the tread on the bottom of 18-year-old Christopher Zephier Jr.’s shoes. Alfson recognized it as matching an imprint found at the scene of a vehicle theft earlier this month in Mitchell.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
When Detective Devin Alfson went to give official court testimony this week in the Davison County Public Safety Center, something caught his eye.
It was the tread on the bottom of 18-year-old Christopher Zephier Jr.’s shoes. Alfson recognized it as matching an imprint found at the scene of a vehicle theft earlier this month in Mitchell.
That identification, combined with an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip from somebody who’d seen news of the crime in The Daily Republic, led police Thursday to 515 E. First Ave., where 18-year-old Derik LaFromboise barricaded himself in a bathroom and threatened to kill himself with a gun. Authorities later said he had no gun.
LaFromboise, Zephier Jr. and Zephier’s mother, Stella, 35, were all arrested Thursday. Mitchell Police Detective Lt. Don Everson revealed the shoe-tread story Friday to The Daily Republic but declined to say why Zephier Jr. was at the Davison County Public Safety Center the day his tread was recognized by Alfson.
The men were charged with numerous counts of grand theft, criminal entry into a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property and intentional damage to property.
LaFromboise has also been charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer as a result of Thursday’s standoff.
Zephier’s mother has been charged with accessory to a crime and “misprision” of a felony — the failure to report knowledge of a felony crime to authorities.
Based on evidence seized and statements given by the suspects, Everson said additional charges could be on the way.
“These people were involved with stealing Christmas lights and decorations,” Everson said. “We’re still trying to match up some of the property.”
The negotiation to get LaFromboise out of the bathroom on Thursday lasted approximately 27 minutes. Joel Reinesch, investigator for the Mitchell Department of Public Safety, was the officer who spoke with LaFromboise.
Reinesch said LaFromboise expressed concern about going to jail, leaving the officer to concentrate on “trying to defuse the situation as much as possible.”
“He made a statement that he had a gun and wanted to kill himself,” Reinesch said. “It was obvious from his statements that he did not want to come with us.”
As negotiations continued, LaFromboise opened the door wide enough for Reinesch to see that the suspect did not have a gun or knife near him.
The two agreed that Reinesch would hand LaFromboise some requested clothing. In return, LaFromboise said he would exit the room willingly.
He never got the chance. As LaFromboise reached out of the door for a piece of clothing, Reinesch — a former Marine — jumped on top of him as Alfson, who had quietly been standing out of sight, assisted.
“He did not resist at all,” Reinesch said.
Reinesch said he would not have attempted to subdue LaFromboise in that manner had he not been able to see that the suspect was unarmed. He also had confidence that Alfson would be there to assist in subduing LaFromboise.
“Had I had any thought in my mind that he had a gun or a knife in his hands, I never would’ve tried that,” Reinesch said. “Obviously, I had confidence. It worked out as well as could be imagined.”