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Judges select four to split $1-million Dorner reward

Money is allocated based on how directly information led to the fugitive LAPD officer, who died after a gun battle in February. At least 12 people had sought a share of the reward.

May 08, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein and Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times
  • Jim Reynolds and his wife, Karen, who were held captive, will receive 80% of the reward.
Jim Reynolds and his wife, Karen, who were held captive, will receive 80%… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Four people who provided crucial information in the hunt for former Los Angeles Police Officer Christopher Dorner will split what is expected to be a $1-million reward in the case, authorities announced Tuesday afternoon.

The division of the highly anticipated reward, sought by at least 12 people after a February gun battle that led to Dorner's death, was overseen by three retired judges and made public in a 12-page report released by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The money will be paid in installments to a couple held captive by Dorner, a ski resort employee and a tow truck driver. The reward was divided based on the "value of the information provided to law enforcement and how directly" it led to authorities to the fugitive former LAPD officer, the report said.

FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for ex-cop

Jim and Karen Reynolds, who were bound and gagged by the rogue ex-officer, will get 80% of the reward because they provided information that "directly led to the hot pursuit and capture of Dorner," according to the report.

Karen Reynolds called 911 on Feb. 12 after she and her husband broke free inside their Big Bear condo where Dorner had been hiding, and provided her location and the description of the couple's Nissan SUV that Dorner had stolen. The call preceded a series of shootouts between Dorner and officers in the final hours before he turned his gun on himself as a fire sparked by tear gas projectiles engulfed the cabin where he had holed up.

"Had Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds failed promptly to escape their restraints and contact law enforcement, it is likely Dorner would have escaped," the report said.

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Calls seeking comment Tuesday evening to the Reynoldses, a family member and an attorney who has represented the couple were not returned.

Dorner, 33, was accused of killing four people, including two law enforcement officers, and wounding several others.

Authorities launched their manhunt after he allegedly shot an Irvine couple Feb. 3. At that point, Dorner's exact whereabouts were unknown as authorities cast a broad dragnet across several states.

But tow truck driver R. Lee McDaniel confirmed that Dorner was in the Inland Empire after he flagged down police Feb. 7 at a Corona gas station and said that he had spotted the fugitive former officer in his truck moments earlier, the report said: "McDaniel positively identified the truck as the one being driven by Dorner."

McDaniel will receive 5% of the reward, according to the report.

After two early morning shootouts Feb. 7 with police, including one that fatally wounded a Riverside officer, Dorner was still on the loose.

Hours later, Snow Summit employee Daniel M. McGowan alerted authorities after spotting a burning truck on a rarely used fire road in the Big Bear area. The vehicle turned out to be Dorner's and led authorities to the area where he was ultimately located. McGowan will get 15% of the reward because his "tip did not directly lead law enforcement to find Dorner," according to the report.

Among those not receiving any money is Richard Heltebrake, a camp ranger who was carjacked by Dorner in the Big Bear area and was seeking the reward. His phone call, after the ex-officer fled in Heltebrake's pickup, "did not lead to information leading to Dorner's capture," the report said, adding that officers had already spotted the fugitive in the white pickup.

A message seeking comment left on a phone belonging to Heltebrake was not returned Tuesday evening.

In announcing updated guidelines for the reward last month, the LAPD said retired judges would make the determination of who gets the $1 million.

The reward — a collection of smaller donations from numerous agencies, groups and individuals — was initially offered for Dorner's "capture and conviction."

But that became irrelevant under the new criteria because Dorner was chased into the cabin where he eventually shot himself.

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