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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 18, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels SATURDAY January 18, 2003 14 pages in 2 sections mrnmmam    14    pages    in    C    sectKHerald-Zeitung •"3 ......•r™r- -y-^vs.....ix............................. .....! =. ...................... " - -------------------- Vol, 152, No. 57 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents Officials believe child rape suspect in hiding By Ron Maloney Staff Writer . Law enforcement officers have been unable for more than a week to find the 29-year-old Austin man indicted on nine felony counts involving the alleged sexual assault of a 14-year-old Comal County girl. Alex Gregory Zwarun was indicted Jan. 8 by a Comal County grand jury on five charges of indecency with a child, three counts of sexual at-Law Judge Brenda Chapman set bond at $1 million. On Dec. 17, District Judge Charles Ramsay reduced the bail to $25,000 at the request of Zwarun’s mother and father, who said they could not afford the higher bond. Zwarun was freed the following day. Comal County Sheriff’s detective Sgt. Tommy Ward said he contacted Zwarun’s attorneys the day after the grand jury returned the indictment, but Zwarun had not been surrendered as of late Friday. Sheriff’s Sgt. Max Wom-mack, commander of the Warrants Division, said he contacted the attorneys Tuesday, but Zwarun still hadn’t surrendered — and Travis County law enforcement officers have been unable to find him. “I’ve been in touch with his attorney and the constable’s office up there,” Wommack said Friday afternoon. “They’re actively pursuing it, but he’s in hiding someplace. The constable’s office Is working real hard on it.” Ward said his detectives would open a search for Zwarun if need be. Eight of Zwarun’s indicted allegations are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for each count. The attempted sexual assault charge is a third-degree felony punishable by two to IO years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. Detectives arrested Zwarun in his Volkswagen in the parking lot of Smithson Valley Middle School as he prepared to leave with a 14-year-old Comal County girl. He was originally booked only on two charges — sexual assault of a child and attempted sexual assault of a child. Detectives believe Zwarun built a relationship with his victim over about a year beginning when she was 13 years old. assault and one count of attempted sexual assault. District Judge Jack Robison set bail on Zwarun at ZWARUN    mjj]ion — which was the third bail figure set on the suspect. The day after his Dec. 5, 2002, arrest, County Court- Workers load brush and debris onto a barge in the Guadalupe River at Horseshoe Falls Estates area Fnday. K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald- Zeitung Man suspected in convenience store robberies arrested Peach Street home bums K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung New Braunfels Fire Marshal Darren Brinkkoeter leaves a home in the 200 block of South Peach Avenue Friday afternoon. A fire believed caused by a candle caused $50,000 in damage and left the family of Regina Martinez homeless.  _ I By Ron Maloney Staff Writer The man sheriffs deputies believe is responsible for a string of local convenience store burglaries was arrested Thursday and is being held in the Comal County Jail. The San Antonio CARRIKER Police Department arrested Chad Wayne Carriker, 24, of Canyon Lake and San Antonio at his San Antonio apartment on a pair of Comal County misdemeanor traffic warrants. Carriker was taken to the FBI office in San Antonio, where Comal County Sheriffs detectives Capt. Dennis Koepp and Sgt. Tbmmy Ward picked him up and returned him to New Braunfels. The warrants are for failing to signal a turn and driving 94 mph in a 65 mph zone. But Carriker, who has previous criminal convictions, is being held without bail on a parole violation warrant. Ward said local investigators believed the four convenience store robberies, which occurred between Oct. 12, 2002, and Nov. 3,2002, in New Braunfels, Sattler and Schertz, were connected. “Based on the way the robberies were carried out, we believe it was the same individual who committed all of them,” Ward said. The descriptions of the suspect, the handgun used and the clothes worn in each of the robberies were similar as well Ward said. On Jan. 9, a witness to a Robberies— The series of local convenience store robberies authorities are investigating occurred: ■ Saturday, Oct. 12, 2002: Pit Stop, Loop 337 and River Road, New Braunfels, just after 9 p.m. ■ Friday. Oct. 18, 2002: Sac N Pac, FM 2673 and River Road, Sattler, just after 8 p.m. ■ Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2002: Quix Convenience Store, FM 1103 and Interstate 35 in Schertz, around 9 p.m. ■ Saturday, Nov. 2, 2002, Pit Stop, Walnut Avenue near Albertson's, New Braunfels, around 8 p.m. Castroville bank robbery followed the suspect to a San Antonio apartment complex, where the alleged suspect reportedly escaped — leaving his car. “The owner of that vehicle came back with ties to the Canyon Lake area,” Ward said. Detectives believe Carriker was driving it. “We suspect he was involved in committing the armed robberies in Comal County and we’re looking into him as the suspect in those robberies,” Ward said. The Department of Public Safety Crime Lab is examining evidence recovered in the Oct. 23, 2002, robbery of a Quix convenience store on FM 1103 at northbound Interstate 35 in Schertz. In that robbery, the suspect allegedly discarded a dark-colored pullover shirt and a dark-colored pair of gloves. Officials also believed the driver damaged his car during the escape in that incident, Ward said. Head of river cleanup says work progressing By Ron Maloney Staff Writer The final cleanup of flood debris in the Guadalupe River is under way. Lee Wiederhold of the Federal Natural Resource Conservation Service briefed Comal County commissioners on the progress of the work at court Thursday. Four crews are now working various reaches of the river after what initially was a slow start to the program. The NRCS is the same agency that oversaw the cleanup in the wake of the Octo ber 1998 flood, and Wiederhold also oversaw that project. On this job, he said, the contractor got off to a slower start, but the project is picking up momentum. “We’ve been working primarily from the lake to the first FM 306 crossing,” he said. “Last week, the contractor started another crew from the second FM 306 crossing and about halfway down from that yesterday, he started a crew downstream from the first crossing.” A fourth crew is working between the second and third See RIVER/3ABar owner arrested in connection with felony drug, evasion charges Inside K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-ZeitungNew Braunfels Police Lf. John Wommack, right, officer Chris Peltier and officer Heath Purvis, from left, prepare to search the Ortiz Rec Center for dings Friday afternoon. By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Police arrested a New Braunfels bar owner on drug charges Friday after he was pursued for an expired inspection sticker. Paul Ortiz Jr., 45, was arrested shortly after I p.m. behind the Ortiz Rec Center, formerly the Black Cat Bar, which is the bar he owns in the 200 block of West San Antonio Street. A county jail official said he was booked on charges of failing to maintain financial responsibility, evading arrest with a vehicle and possession of between four ounces and five pounds of marijuana. The marijuana and evading airest allegations are state jail felonies punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to two years in a state jail. The* other charge, for allegedly not having insurance on the truck, is a misdemeanor. An undisclosed amount of cash found in a plastic bag in Ortiz’s truck was confiscated. New Braunfels police Lt. John Wommack and officer John Sullivan were on patrol in the 300 block of South Seguin Avenue just after I p.m. when they passed Ortiz, who was driving his 1994 Chevrolet pick-up. Wommack noticed that the inspection sticker on the truck was expired, and he turned around to stop Ortiz, who turned left on Coll Street and then right on Caste ll Avenue — accelerating as he went, according to Sullivan. “He had punched it,’ Sullivan said. “By the time we got onto Casted from Coll he was making the turn into the alley behind the bar." Wommack said he then ran up to the back door and tossed a package into the building. The officers then took him into custody. Officers of the Comal County Metropolitan Drug Task Force and Comal County Sheriff’s deputies assisted searching the Ortiz bar, which was closed Friday afternoon. No bail had been set on Ortiz Friday night. He will go before a judge today at the jail. Abby................... 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