OSOYOOS FAMILY HELPS POLICE CATCH WANTED MAN
OSOYOOS TIMES-August 10, 2011
By Paul Everest – Osoyoos Times
It was a fluke.
That’s how Ken Anderson and his son Brock described their encounter on the evening of Aug. 3 with a Penticton man wanted by police for attempted murder.
At about 5:45 p.m. that day, Ken and Brock were driving in a truck on their property on Road 20 north of Osoyoos when they saw a man on their neighbour’s property to the north, heading towards the east side of their own land.
The man was carrying a large black bag, Brock said and Ken added the man appeared to be following the old Kettle Valley Railway bed southwards and may have been interested in finding food in one of the adjacent orchards.
Ken and Brock finished up their business on their property and returned to their house to park the truck.
That’s when they noticed that the man was now behind a shop building on their property and appeared to be trying to get to one of the oxbows to the east of their land.
From an access road behind the shop building, Ken said he asked the man what he was doing and the man responded that he was looking for some friends.
Brock said the man did not appear to be an agricultural worker and Ken guessed he was looking for a flat place in the woods to bed down.
But the mosquitoes were keeping the man from getting too deep into the oxbow, Ken said.
The man was clean-shaven, dressed in a black shirt, black sunglasses, a black hat and jeans and he was carrying a big garbage bag, Ken said, adding that he told the man that his friends were not in the area and pointed him in the direction of Road 22.
Ken and Brock watched the man approach them from the oxbow and at one point he was about a metre away from them.
It was at that point that Ken recognized the man.
“Dad said, ‘I think it was him,’” Brock said.
Just 15 minutes before sighting the man, the Anderson family had watched a segment on the 5:30 p.m. television news about how police were still looking for David Wesley Bobbitt, 35, a man wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for the charge of attempted murder in connection to a brutal incident of alleged forcible confinement and sexual assault at a Penticton thrift store on July 30.
Penticton RCMP had received a report at 10:30 p.m. on July 30 of a missing 22-year-old woman from the woman’s family.
The family had reported the woman and her 22-month-old son as missing after the woman failed to drop the child off with family before going to work.
Between 2:15 and 3 a.m. on the morning of July 31, the family advised police that they had found the woman’s vehicle parked on Ellis Street in downtown Penticton.
It is believed the woman had gone to the store to buy an item.
When police arrived in the area where the woman’s vehicle was located, they discovered the rear door of a nearby thrift store ajar and found the woman inside.
She was bound and suffering from serious injuries, police said, but the child was found nearby unharmed.
The mother and child were immediately transported to hospital and police began looking for Bobbitt, the leasee and operator of the thrift store which is called Dave’s Second Hand store.
Police said Bobbitt resided on the property but he was nowhere to be found.
The victim was unknown to the suspect, police said.
In the days that followed, police asked the public through the media for any information on where Bobbitt might be.
Nose was giveaway
“I knew it was him and I told him to leave,” Ken said.
After the man started walking southwards towards Road 22 along the access road, Ken and Brock rushed to their house and checked the Internet to see if a police photo and description of Bobbitt matched the man they had encountered.
Ken said it was the man’s nose that gave him away and he was certain it was the man police were looking for.
He immediately called an off-duty police officer who is a friend of the family and told him of the encounter.
The officer asked Ken if he was sure and Ken replied that he was certain.
He then received a call from RCMP in Penticton and Ken was advised to stay away from the man, but to keep him in sight.
Ken and Brock returned to the access road and watched the man go in and out of the trees between the road and the oxbow but he was again thwarted by mosquitoes.
They then got into their truck and headed south on Hwy. 97, watching the man as he made his way towards Road 22.
All the while, Ken was regularly calling police on his cellphone to advise them of Bobbitt’s movements.
When the man reached the intersection of Hwy. 97 and Road 22, Ken said, he sat down on the east side of the highway below the road’s embankment.
In the meantime, Ken and Brock had hooked up with a neighbour and were watching the suspect through binoculars from their neighbour’s vehicle at the side of the highway near the new passing lanes.
After a while, the man got up and crossed the highway to the frontage road and Ken said he was no longer carrying the black bag but now had a white bag or bucket.
Brock said he felt that the man was aware that he was being watched.
At just before 6:30 p.m., a police car coming from Osoyoos came up the highway.
It turned around near the turnoff to the frontage road and an officer arrested the man near the Orchard Hill Estate Cidery and Fruit Market without incident.
Ken later advised police as to where he believed the man had dropped his black bag and police returned to the area to retrieve it.
He added that police were in the area of his property later that evening looking for evidence.
Ken and Brock said they credit being in the right place at the right time for spotting Bobbitt since they would not have noticed him had they not been sitting so high up in the cab of their truck.
They added that they would have never noticed him behind their property if they hadn’t seen him heading in that direction since they rarely go behind their shop building.
The Andersons said they were not scared when they confronted the man.
But they said they were relieved that they played a part in taking a man wanted for a brutal crime off the street and they hope Bobbitt’s arrest brings some comfort to the family of the victim.
Police spokesman Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said the victim and her family were notified of the suspect’s arrest and they are relieved.
Bobbitt is charged with attempted murder and police have recommended additional sexual assault and unlawful confinement charges.
He appeared in court on Aug. 4 and Moskaluk said the suspect has been remanded into custody for a 30-day psychological assessment.
He will next appear in court on Aug. 31.
The victim is still recovering from her physical injuries, Moskaluk said, and media reports indicate she has been released from hospital.
Police are now seeking witnesses to help establish a timeline of the suspect’s movements between the time of the incident on July 30 and his arrest on Aug. 3.
Moskaluk said it is believed that after the suspect fled the store on July 31, he was picked up by a vehicle leaving Penticton while hitchhiking and was dropped off near the junction of highways 97 and 3A near Kaleden.
Police want to know who he may have contacted in the days prior to his arrest, what establishments he may have entered, whether or not people may have picked him up hitchhiking or observed him on their properties.
It is unknown if Bobbitt was making his way to the U.S. border, Moskaluk added.
Anyone with information that could help police in this matter is asked to call the Penticton RCMP at 250-492-4300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Moskaluk said police are grateful to the media and the public, especially the family who tipped off police about spotting Bobbitt, for their assistance during the manhunt.
Ken and Brock, who reported that police called to thank them the next day and expressed shock at how quickly Bobbitt was found, said they were happy to help.
But they added that anyone in their place would have done the same thing.