Mon, Aug 20, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Informer's tip crucial to arrest of two more suspects in schoolyard killings

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

After an intense manhunt spanning several states, a 24-year-old man and his teenage half brother were arrested on Saturday in the Aug. 4 killings of three friends in Newark, said Garry McCarthy, Newark's police director.

"We got a bunch of really hot tips in the last few days," he said, adding that the information led a task force headed by US marshals to the two, Rodolfo Godinez, 24, and his half brother, a 16-year-old, in apartments in Maryland and Virginia.

With the latest arrests, five people are being held in connection with the killings, including Jose Lachira Carranza, 28, and two 15-year-old boys. Another teenage boy is still being sought, the authorities said. None of the teenagers' names have been publicly released.

The three victims, Dashon Harvey, 20, Iofemi Hightower, 20, and Terrance Aeriel, 18, were shot dead at close range in a school playground. Aeriel's sister, Natasha, also was shot but survived. The authorities have said that robbery was the motive.

Godinez was apprehended at 1am, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, near from Washington, according to James Plousis, the US marshal for New Jersey. The authorities found Godinez, along with eight other people, in a rundown apartment near the Capital Beltway. Godinez's arrest took place without incident, Plousis said.

An hour later in Woodbridge, Virginia a 16-year-old was arrested. There was one other person in the apartment at the time, Plousis said.

Apart from the tips, the authorities tracked cellphones used by the two, even after they switched phones, officials said. In recent days, the FBI received a tip from an informer, which McCarthy called a key to the arrests.

McCarthy also credited the marshals.

"They specialize in the hunt," he said.

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