Two men and a woman, arrested after a high-speed chase through the Arizona mountains and desert, have been booked in Los Angeles in connection with the death of a City of Commerce businessman.
Bernard M. Butler, 56, of Malibu was found dead Saturday in the Malibu hills three days after his sister reported him missing, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies said Sunday.
One of the men arrested, James Edward Ferioli, had been Butler's house guest for six weeks, deputies said. Butler, who owned an oil production firm in City of Commerce, had picked up the 22-year-old transient while Ferioli was hitchhiking.
Sheriff's homicide detectives said they believe that Butler was killed after Ferioli and the two other suspects, who met last week at a Santa Monica pier, robbed his home of a stereo, television set and two cameras.
Ferioli and two others, Cynthia Matthews, 20, and Michael Hovatter, 22, both of West Virginia, were arrested Saturday in Kingman, Ariz. Police said they failed to pay their dinner bill at a local truck stop and left in a stolen car, leading authorities on a high-speed chase into the Hualapai Mountains.
The suspects abandoned the car after it spun out of control, deputies said, and fled through the rugged mountains and high desert of northwestern Arizona.
Kingman police and Mojave County sheriff's deputies, with the help of trackers and tracking dogs, found two of the suspects after a four-hour search in the dark.
Matthews and Hovatter were discovered hiding under some brush five miles up the mountain. Ferioli, who had jogged 16 miles through the desert, was found two hours later when he stopped at a restaurant and told employees that he was being pursued by police.