Fri, Mar 24, 2006 - Page 7 News List

US outcast `Lestat' held after Bolivian bombings

AP , LA PAZ

A US citizen accused of killing two people and wounding at least seven by setting off bombs in two Bolivian hotels had been seeking a new home after renouncing his US citizenship and allegedly had tried to bomb an ATM in Argentina.

Previously known as Triston Jay Amero, he also goes by John Scheda and Lestat Claudius de Orleans y Montevideo -- Lestat being the name of a vampire in the popular Anne Rice novels.

He's traveled with altered documents and checked into hotels claiming to be a Saudi Arabian lawyer and a reverend. He was apparently running from the law in California.

The 24-year-old was detained on Wednesday alongside his girlfriend Alda Ribeiro, 40, of Uruguay. Police paraded the handcuffed pair in front of the press; Lestat, slightly overweight, with a ponytail and glasses, showed no emotion before onlookers.

Bolivian authorities and neighbors said the couple had been giving away nude calendars promoting a Bolivian business selling and exporting "explosives, fireworks and liquor."

On the calendar and to various authorities he used the name Lestat, but was not clear whether he had legally changed his name to Lestat.

Authorities have been left scratching their heads as to the pair's motive, saying it may have been "religious."

"The possible motives behind these attacks are incomprehensible. There don't seem to be any concrete objectives other than causing deaths," Deputy Interior Minister Rafael Puente told Radio Fides.

The bombings occurred in two low budget hotels frequented by foreign tourists about a kilometer apart in La Paz's historic city center. Fatalities were caused by the first explosion that hit the Alojamiento Linares hotel at about 9:30pm on Tuesday.

Police identified the dead as a Bolivian man and woman. A US citizen, identified as Jessica Wilson, was treated and released from a hospital and the other injured people are Bolivian, police said.

Police said they managed to evacuate the second hotel before the blast hit at about 2am and said the couple was planning to bomb the Chilean consulate here tomorrow.

Police initially said the blasts were "typical of terrorist crime," and President Evo Morales lost no time in denouncing them as an attack on Bolivia's democracy.

"This American was putting bombs in hotels," Morales said. "The US government fights terrorism, and they send us terrorists."

La Paz district attorney Jorge Gutierrez said the couple entered Bolivia overland from Argentina and perpetrated attacks in other Bolivian cities that left no victims. They also tried to bomb an ATM machine in northern Argentina, police said.

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