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Fugitive father caught in Baltimore

An international manhunt for a New England man accused of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter a week ago came to an end yesterday afternoon when FBI agents arrested the fugitive and rescued the girl in Mount Vernon, officials said.

FBI agents were tipped off to the presence of a man known as Clark Rockefeller by a real estate agent who leased him a carriage house in Baltimore, according to a police source familiar with the investigation.

The source spoke to The Sun on condition of anonymity because the kidnapping case is being handled by federal authorities.

At a news conference last night in Boston, officials said that federal agents have been watching Rockefeller's Baltimore residence for "a couple of days" and also located his 26-foot catamaran docked at a city marina.

Agents lured Rockefeller out of the carriage house about 3:30 p.m. by placing a phone call to him and saying his boat was taking on water, according to Boston police. When Rockefeller left the place, FBI agents went in and found his daughter, ReighÖ Boss, police said.

"She was reportedly excited to see law enforcement officials," Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said last night. "Her appearance had not been altered. Reigh appears to be unharmed."

The girl's mother, Sandra Boss, was en route to Maryland yesterday evening.

Rockefeller was arrested without incident, police said. He faces charges of felony kidnapping, assault and battery, and battery with a dangerous weapon charges. He is expected to be arraigned tomorrow.

The arrest ended about a five-hour stakeout. Lauren Gritzer, 26, said she was in her apartment in the 100 block of W. Monument St. at 10:30 a.m. when FBI agents arrived.

Gritzer, a researcher for Johns Hopkins Medicine, said law enforcement officers stayed in the apartment, which overlooks the carriage house where Rockefeller and his daughter lived, for about five hours. "This isn't my typical Saturday," she said. "I was planning on cleaning my apartment."

Stan Kamau, a parking attendant in the Walters Art Museum lot on the corner of Cathedral and Centre Streets, said he saw about 20 plainclothes officers with pistols and "military guns" run down Cathedral Street about 3:30 p.m. and detain a man, put him in a van and leave."He looked shabby. He didn't look like a kidnapper. He didn't look like someone who could do something big," Kamau said.

Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said that the FBI notified him early yesterday morning that they were watching a person they believed was Rockefeller. He said that he offered to help their operation and that some of the city officers detailed to the FBI joint task force were involved, though he declined to describe their role.

"This operation was very well planned -- you would have seen very little out there," said Bealefeld. "I got a very pleasant call [yesterday] afternoon that they were able to do the arrest. I think they handled it very well," he said.

When asked why Rockefeller fled to Baltimore, federal authorities said that that question was "part of their continuing investigation."

Police said that the abduction appears to have been the result of Rockefeller's dissatisfaction with a divorce and custody settlement between him and Boss. The couple divorced in December 2007.

Reports through various media outlets have described Rockefeller as being an enigmatic man who talked little about his past and had used at least four aliases.

Although he lived relatively close, Gritzer said she did not know Rockefeller. Her only interaction with the man was through a real estate agent who asked that she take down a grill perched outside her window. "He [the agent] said that it was blocking his view of the building," Gritzer said. "He said he was going to call the Fire Department and that I was going to get fined. I was like, 'whatever.' I took it down. It was easier."

If it wasn't for the barbeque incident, Gritzer would not have known that someone was living in the two-story carriage house. "There were no lights," she said. "Not even at night."

Gritzer saw the girl for the first time when agents took her out of the home. "She was cute," Gritzer recalled. "She looked like she was in kindergarten. I had never seen her before. I had no idea a little girl was back there."

The 48-year-old father is not related to the wealthy Rockefeller family. He and Reigh were last seen in Boston on July 27, for a pre-arranged visitation in the presence of a social worker. During the meeting, Clark pushed the social worker down and fled the scene with his daughter, according to police. They were picked up by another individual, police said.

The two were taken to Grand Central Station in New York later that night, where they were seen in a cab line near the Hyatt Hotel/Grand Central Station, Boston police said.

Police initially suspected that Rockefeller was trying to flee to Bermuda or Peru on a boat docked on Long Island. But authorities later thought that Rockefeller might have planted false clues.

At the Canton Marina yesterday evening, a man and woman wearing shirts marked "FBI" were aboard a catamaran that matched the description of Rockefeller's boat.

They declined to be interviewed, but the woman appeared to be packing up a small blue cooler, including placing in the cooler a box of purple gloves.

A few moments later, the agents took photographs of the boat from a nearby promenade before leaving.

brent.jones@baltsun.com
gadi.dechter@baltsun.com
john-john.williams@baltsun.com
kevin.rector@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Annie Linskey contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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