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Man Investigated in Theft of Old War Photos in Simi Valley

May 29, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Simi Valley police on Wednesday arrested -- and later released -- a man at a Beverly Hills photo gallery in connection with the theft of 19th century battlefield photographs that a local collector estimates are worth about $70,000.

Simi Valley Police Lt. Rex Jones said Delanor Chapman, 36, of Santa Monica was later released pending further investigation because there wasn't enough evidence to charge him in the April 25 Simi Valley burglary.

The stolen photographs were taken from an office belonging to a Simi Valley businessman who wants to open a war museum.

Police believe Chapman, a transient, is an acquaintance of Richard Aguilar, wanted for questioning in the case. Police said Aguilar had a financial dispute with the owner of the antique photographs.

The arrest came after the gallery owner, suspicious about a request to appraise the photos, contacted others in the industry who knew of the Simi Valley burglary.

Police were notified after it was confirmed the photos had been stolen.

About 15 photographs of Civil War Gen. William T. Sherman were recovered, though pictures from an album of Gen. George Armstrong Custer's relatives remain missing, Jones said.

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