Nationwide search under way for fourth suspect in Craigslist murder


by KING Staff

Posted on May 5, 2010 at 9:31 AM

Updated Thursday, May 6 at 7:30 AM

TACOMA, Wash. - Detectives from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department have identified the fourth suspect involved in the April 28 robbery-turned-homicide in Edgewood.

A nationwide arrest warrant has been issued for Clabon T. Berniard, 23, of the SeaTac area. He is identified as being black, 5-foot-11, 200 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

"We guess he's in the wind, knowing that we're going to be looking for him and now we're going to need the public's help to get him caught," said Det. Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff's Dept.

The victim's brother made a public plea to turn the suspect in.

"We're just like most of you out there," said Derek Sanders, Jim Sanders' brother. "I imagine that the people that are harboring him, they're probably criminals as well. But we're just a family. We want to bring this to justice."

Troyer said one of two men held in California in connection with the crimes was the triggerman. Investigators had previously thought they had not yet captured the man who shot and killed Jim Sanders.

Kyoshi Higashi, 22, and Joshua Reese, 21, made an appearance in a California courtroom on Wednesday. They both fought back tears as a judge signed an extradition order, clearing the way for a return to Washington state. The two could be returning back to Pierce County as early as Friday.

In an interview with KING 5 reporter Chris Daniels, Higashi said he wants to get back to Washington to "settle this." He denied any involvement in the crimes and doesn't know why his name was brought up in the case. He said he has an alibi for the night of the murder - he was with his girlfriend - and was adamant that he was not involved in the murder.

Higashi,  Reese and 21-year-old Amanda Knight and Berniard are charged with murder, robbery and assault. 

Investigators say Reese and Knight have confessed to taking part in the Edgewood robbery.

Higashi, Reese and Knight were arrested in Daly City, Calif., over the weekend. Daly City Police Sgt. David Macris told KING 5 the three were stopped at 11:50 a.m. Saturday because their Ford Crown Victoria had no front license plate. Macris said Reese had a weapon within reach under the seat. He also allegedly gave a false name to officers. Macris says someone else in the car tried to hide their identification. Knight was able to bail out.

Knight made her way back to Washington state. According to detectives, someone in Washington sent Knight money so she could take a bus back home to Sumner. She turned herself in Tuesday night and was booked into the Pierce County Jail.

Police served a search warrant on a house in Tacoma Tuesday afternoon in hopes of catching the fourth suspect, but that person was not there. The homeowner is Higashi's father. Police say Alan Higashi refused to let officers in, so he was arrested for obstruction of justice. He made a court appearance on Wednesday, and pleaded not guilty.

Two murder suspects identified by jail clerical staff

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office says a member of the clerical staff at the San Mateo County Maguire Correctional Facility played a key role in the capture of two of the suspects.

The Legal Office Specialist read a news story on the Internet, which gave descriptions and sketches of three suspected murderers - a black male, an Asian male and a white female from the Tacoma area. The LOS believed the descriptions of three suspects matched three people that had been booked by the Daly City Police department on Saturday, who were also from Tacoma.

She reported to her sergeant that she believed the three bookings were the suspects in a Pierce County murder that she had read about online. The sergeant contacted the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, advised them of the booking and provided them with the Daly City Police Department contact information.

Amanda Knight, who bailed from custody, turned herself in to law enforcement authorities Tuesday afternoon. She appeared in court on Wednesday, and pleaded not guilty. She was ordered held on $2 million bail.

Knight says Reese, Higashi involved in Lake Stevens home invasion

Lake Stevens Police say Knight has been positively identified as being involved in a home invasion in that city on April 25. In that case, the homeowner had placed an ad on Craigslist for a flat-screen television.

Police found several stolen items from the home at a pawn shop in Pierce County. The shop owner confirmed that Knight pawned them.

KING 5 News has learned that Amanda Knight told authorities that both Reese and Higashi were also involved.