Family members of convicted rapist Spencer Scarber apparently considered paying money to Mexican authorities after Scarber was caught in Acapulco last month, according to a Fresno County sheriff's detective's court statement.
But the strange case of Scarber and his family apparently began unraveling when a person who Scarber's mother tried to enlist for help in the scheme instead informed the Sheriff's Office.
A search warrant filed this week in Superior Court details how the Scarber family allegedly was tripped up.
The court affidavit, written by Detective Sergio Toscano, stated that Scarber's mother, Gail Scarber, considered renting a car to go to Southern California and possibly Mexico on Feb. 15, the day after Spencer Scarber was arrested for having false identification.
The next day, Feb. 16, Scarber's family -- Gail; his father, Kyle Scarber; and his sister Crystal Reynoso -- were arrested and charged as accessories for helping Spencer Scarber flee the country days before he was convicted of rape, robbery and burglary in December. He faces 70 years in prison.
After Spencer Scarber was apprehended in Mexico, the confidential witness told sheriff's investigators: "Gail was paranoid and worried for Spencer. Gail needed to go to Mexico to deliver a form of identification for Spencer to prove who he was."
Gail Scarber asked the informant to go with her, but he refused to get involved. He wouldn't let her leave her car at his home, and, fearing for the safety of himself and his family, he contacted the Sheriff's Office.
Gail Scarber rented a car and was under surveillance on Feb. 15 when she went into the Target store at Blackstone and Bullard avenues in Fresno and bought two international prepaid cell phones, the affidavit said. She then picked up Reynoso at Shaw and Fowler avenues in Clovis before returning to the confidential witness's home.
The witness believed that Scarber and Reynoso were headed to Southern California.
"What (the informant) heard was whether they should pay or give money to the authorities," the affidavit states. The informant "assumed they meant the Mexican authorities."
The informant overheard Scarber and Reynoso as they discussed calling Kyle Scarber -- the California Highway Patrol assistant chief in the Fresno area and formerly the commander of the Merced-area CHP office -- "so he could make the decision about paying the Mexican authorities."
But Kyle Scarber's lawyer, Marshall Hodgkins, said Tuesday that "there is no information to indicate that Kyle Scarber ever received a call about paying off authorities."
Hodgkins said the search warrant raises only one issue for Kyle Scarber's defense: the timing of his son's disappearance. Kyle Scarber said he last saw his son at the family's Squaw Valley home at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 12. His wife's car entered Mexico at 3:24 a.m. Investigators believe Spencer Scarber was inside with his mother and Reynoso. Hodgkins said he can defend Kyle Scarber on that issue, but he declined to elaborate.
Gail Scarber and Reynoso used their passports to walk back across the border at San Ysidro 80 minutes after their car was recorded driving into Mexico. The car was found earlier this month south of an Arizona border crossing.
According to the search warrant, a passport was issued to Spencer Scarber on Oct. 24. He had said he wanted it expedited because he was taking a cruise on Nov. 6 -- the original date for his trial.
The informant told Toscano to remember the name Brandon Smith, which deputies later learned was the alias on Spencer Scarber's false identification.
In the warrant, Toscano said he recalls recovering paperwork with Brandon Smith's name from Kyle Scarber's car and home during searches the day Spencer Scarber was reported missing, and in a search of the family's home one week later.
Spencer Scarber was identified by sheriff's investigators after they got photos from Mexican authorities of the man identified as Brandon Smith. They also identified him through tattoos.