Nov. 21, 2005 Police are looking for St. John resident Renell Lettsome in connection with the Oct. 29 murder of David Geiger and the attack on his son, Nathan, in Grunwald, Police Commissioner Elton Lewis said at a press conference Monday at the Leander Jurgen Command on St. John.
Police said Lettsome allegedly set David Geiger's bed on fire after Geiger died. Geiger was 44. Neighbors pulled Nathan Geiger, 14, from the house and put out the fire.
Lewis said Nathan Geiger is now with his mother. He did not have details of Nathan Geiger's current condition, but after the incident he was rushed to a hospital in Puerto Rico. (See "Police Say Investigation of Fire and Homicide Will Take Time".)
Police are searching for another St. John man, Tullius C. Stewart, in connection with a grand larceny Oct. 23 at Geiger's Grunwald house.
"But this case is far from over," Lewis said.
Lewis declined to elaborate, but he said robbery was a motive in the alleged murder. He said money was taken.
In addition to Lettsome and Stewart, Lewis said the police are also looking for two to four people they consider persons of interest. He declined to give their names, but said police are seeking warrants for those people.
While Monday's announcement helped quell some of the rumors going around St. John about the Geiger case, Lewis had nothing to say about the alleged rape of Esther Frett. He said that case was in the hands of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and he couldn't comment.
Frett's reported Aug. 30 rape sparked a huge outcry from the community and a rally on Oct. 1 that drew several hundred people looking for answers that weren't provided.
More than a dozen people gathered outside the police station Monday in hopes that answers would come in the Frett case.
"It's amazing how quickly they came to a resolution with the Geiger case but not with the Frett case," St. John resident Barbara Thompson said. She said the lack of answers is upsetting the entire community.
Lewis stressed that the Geiger and Frett cases are not related.
Many of those gathered outside the police station were under the impression that the press conference was open to the public, but except for police staff, two of Geiger's relatives, Sen. Craig Barshinger, Sen. Liston Davis, and St. John Administrator Julien Harley, the public was not allowed into the office on the upper floor of the police station where the press conference was held.
Lettsome, 21, is described as black, five 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 130 to 140 pounds. His photo supplied by the police shows him with long dreadlocks.
Lettsome is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, first-degree assault, third degree assault, arson, and use of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.
Lewis said Superior Court Judge Audrey Thomas set bail at $1 million should Lettsome be captured
Stewart, 29, is black, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. His photo shows he has short hair.
Lewis said Thomas said Stewart's bail at $100,000.
Lewis said police believe Stewart fled St. John for the mainland right after Geiger was murdered. Lettsome may be on Tortola, Lewis said, but the department is getting conflicting information.
"Mr. Lettsome is on the lam, but rest assured, he will be brought back to face charges," Lewis said.
Both Lettsome and Stewart are described as armed and dangerous.
Both were born on St. Thomas but lived on St. John. Lettsome's home is in Estate Carolina, which is the Coral Bay area. Stewart lived at Caneel Bay.
Lewis said wanted posters for Lettsome and Stewart were sent Monday to the National Crime Information Center for distribution to other police departments.
Harley said after the press conference that the police did a good job in not rushing to judgment in the Geiger case.
However, he spoke of how young Lettsome and Stewart are and how difficult this is for their parents.
"This is so sad," he said.
A group of St. John residents hired a private detective to investigate Geiger's murder. Lewis declined to comment.
The investigator, Michael Dunleavy of Intelligence & Training Inc. of Seminole, Fla. was in the police station lobby before the press conference. He was not allowed to attend the press conference and told waiting reporters that he could not comment on his investigation. He said he'd been on St. John since Nov. 4.
Lewis said he hasn't seen any marked increase in St. John's crime rate, but he said territory-wide, violent crime is on the increase.
Lewis declined to give specifics on the number of officers working for the Police Department now, but said that 20 people in each district will start a 26-week class at the Police Academy on Jan. 9.
Lewis said there was an effort to hire officers who live on St. John, but only one "young lady" applied.
He said the department advertises around the country for new officers via its Web site, www.vipd.gov.vi.
Lewis said he received many e-mails and letters about the Geiger case, most of them attacking the department.
He asked that anyone with information about the case call the Major Crime Unit at 715-5534, 715-5546 or 911.
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