MIAMI — Police said Friday that a 19-year-old woman, angered when a German couple targeted as robbery victims refused to pull over after her boyfriend rammed their rental car with a truck, stuck a sawed-off rifle through her window and fired a single shot at the driver.
The bullet struck Uwe-Wilhelm Rakebrand, 33, in the back of the neck early Wednesday, killing him instantly. The incident touched off an international sensation that threatens to damage South Florida's reputation as a major tourist destination.
Rakebrand was the fourth German and the eighth foreign visitor to South Florida to be killed in the past year. State and local officials have been scrambling to minimize damage to Florida's $30-billion-a-year tourism industry.
Patsy Jones was arrested Friday morning after an intensive manhunt and was charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. She had been released from a county jail in Ft. Lauderdale last Saturday after armed robbery charges in another case were dropped.
"She gave a full confession," said Miami police Detective Carlos Avila, "and in fact confessed to having pulled the trigger." Jones said she fired the .30-caliber rifle to get the driver to stop, police said.
Jones' boyfriend, Recondall (Rico) Wiggins, 19, was arrested by police Thursday while visiting his sick 1-year-old son in a Miami hospital. Police said that he has confessed to driving the yellow rental truck used to bump the Rakebrands' car as the couple headed toward Miami Beach on a major freeway.
The attempted "bump and rob" assault began just minutes after Rakebrand and his pregnant 27-year-old wife, Kathrin, arrived in Miami on a belated honeymoon from their home in Adendrof, Germany. She was not injured.
At the time of the attack, Kathrin Rakebrand told police, she was reading a German-language safety brochure handed to her by the rental agency. Those brochures, printed up last spring in response to the murder of another German tourist, advise motorists not to stop if their cars are struck from behind.
Also arrested Friday was a third suspect, Alvin Hudson, 19. Hudson was a passenger in the truck, said Avila, who declined to detail Hudson's role in the assault. He, like Wiggins, has been charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery.
Jones was arrested Aug. 13 in Broward County on theft and attempted armed robbery charges after she was stopped in a store as a suspected shoplifter and a handgun was found in her purse. But after she spent two weeks behind bars, the Broward prosecutor said, the charges were dropped because she did not attempt to use the weapon.
In the last two years Wiggins has been arrested five times on charges that include aggravated assault, burglary and grand larceny.
According to police, after assaulting the Rakebrands, Wiggins and Jones sped off, but then returned to the scene in a stolen car a short time later to see what effect the gunshot had had. Police said the suspects reported that, with police on the scene, they drove by and saw Rakebrand's body covered with a white sheet.
Later Wednesday, Wiggins confessed his involvement to his mother, Cathey Hazelhurst, a secretary at a Metro-Dade County police department, a separate agency from the Miami police.
In a television interview Friday with Miami's WSVN-Channel 7, Hazelhurst blamed Jones for her son's involvement. "She is truly a nightmare, the worst thing that ever happened to him," Hazelhurst said.
Then, in a comment directed at Kathrin Rakebrand, Hazelhurst said: "If I could give my life for her husband, I would do it."