For several minutes, officers tracked the assailant through the yards.201 With many cops out of their cars, the radio chatter died down. At one point, officers driving on McArdle radioed in a request for help stopping a dark blue Mercury with two Hispanic men in it.202 An unnamed officer responded urgently, “No, he was on foot. We need somebody to try and stop him.”203 Officers chased the Mercury anyway, stopping it a few minutes later and confirming it was a false lead.204 Gradually, the cops lost track of the suspect.205
The next burst of radio traffic began around 8:23 p.m., thirteen minutes after Wanda screamed and eleven minutes after Mejia began broadcasting BOLOs. This burst was even more chaotic than the first, and it was tinged with a sense of danger as the dispatcher desperately tried to reestablish contact with officers in hot pursuit of the suspect on foot. The volley of reports concentrated on several points along McArdle Road east of Dodd (Points 3 to 7), and peaked where McArdle meets Kostoryz (Points 6 and 7).
Officer Fowler, the first cop at the Sigmor, was also the first to direct attention to the intersection of McArdle and Kostoryz, where he had stopped a man earlier that evening. At 8:23 p.m., he asked the dispatcher if he had any police units near the intersection.206 Until then, Fowler had been attending to Wanda. When the ambulance arrived and the EMTs took over, Fowler started listening to the radio traffic and realized that the man described in the BOLOS might be the same one he had questioned earlier that night at a Circle K at McArdle and Kostoryz (Point 7).207
The Circle K was the competing convenience store nearest to the Sigmor. About an hour earlier, Fowler had seen a man loitering suspiciously outside it. When Fowler asked the man what he was doing, the man said he was waiting for a ride.208 Fowler may have figured that if the Sigmor attacker had initially planned to rob the Circle K before being spooked by a cop, he might now be heading back to that store for his car or a ride.
Conversing with Escochea over the radio frequency recorded on the dispatch tape, Fowler described the man he’d seen: “Hispanic male, about 5 foot 9, white T-shirt or heavy T-shirt, almost a sweatshirt-type. . . . Beard and mustache.”209 Fowler thought the man was wearing white pants.210
Escochea immediately saw a connection to Wanda’s description of her attacker on the phone and also to eyewitness Kevan Baker’s description of the man he saw fleeing the Sigmor. “Ok,” he said over the radio, “sounds like the description the clerk was trying to give me on the phone.211 She said he was out there trying to bum a ride, armed with a knife. Possibly could be the same one.”212 Still on the radio, Escochea asked Mejia to repeat the BOLO.213 After Mejia repeated Baker’s description—the eighth of Mejia’s nine descriptions of the assailant’s clothing—Escochea said it “[s]ounds like the same guy [Fowler] was looking at earlier.”214
In the middle of this discussion, reports began coming in of a suspect running along McArdle towards Kostoryz. Constable Rivera recalled that “an officer had broken the frequency [radioed in] and said there was a subject over in the . . . ballpark area” (Point 4), along McArdle about halfway from Dodd to Kostoryz.215
Midway through Escochea’s exchange with Fowler about the man at the Circle K, the dispatcher got a call for back-up at 3131 McArdle, still further along McArdle between a nursing home (Point 5) and a Domino’s Pizza outlet.216 Domino's (Point 6) was also at McArdle and Kostoryz, across the street from the Circle K (Point 7). An intruder set off a business burglar alarm in the area, and plain-clothes vice officers responded.217
Two minutes later, uniformed officers in Car 139 pulled into the Domino’s and spotted a suspect running “up behind” the store. The officers gave chase, prompting an urgent call for back-up:218 “Anyone near Kostoryz and McArdle?” The dispatcher wanted “somebody else out there with 139.”219
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:14:41 (tape at 00:06:00), 8:17:04 (tape at 00:08:23), 8:17:37 (tape at 00:08:56), 8:17:40 (tape at 00:08:59), 8:27:19 (tape at 00:18:38) (“Got to be in the area, about in—what is that—Sunnybrook? Correction, [?] block North of S.P.I.D. I’m going to be out on foot on 4900 [?]”; “My partner will be on foot on Dodd, I’ll [?] in the area.”; “Yeah, 21 is in the area [?] [on foot]”; “He’ll be on foot in the area of Dodd and McArdle.”; “on foot on walkie-talkie around 48?? [?] of Dodd”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:23:33 (tape at 00:14:52), 8:24:04 (tape at 00:15:23) (“Ok. We have a [?] over blue, very dark blue Mercury L.T.D. or Marquis, 2 Hispanic males, they’re eastbound on McArdle. They should be just getting to Kostoryz now. The same people were [?] up by Circle K at Kostoryz and McArdle before.”; “Ok, we’ve got dark Mercury, it’s eastbound on McArdle, just approaching Kostoryz, occupied by two Hispanic males.”).
Some officers remained in the area. See Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:27:19 (tape at 00:18:38), 8:30:18 (tape at 00:21:37) (reporting that an officer is in 4800 block of Dodd; reporting that an officer is “stationary” at 4900 Dodd).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:23:19–8:23:22 (tape at 00:14:38–00:14:41) (responding to dispatcher’s question about whether the suspect had a cap on: “Not known to me, ma’am. Do you have any units in the area of Kostoryz and McArdle?”).
Actually, the first possible mention of the intersection of McArdle and Kostoryz is an unexplained reference by an unknown officer to “That 38 [police code for an assault in progress] going there at the Circle-K [?] S.P.I.D.” Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:19:82 (tape at 00:11:01). The closest Circle K to the Sigmor was located at McArdle and Kostoryz. We left this reference out of our narrative, however, because it is unexplained and because the “38,” or assault in progress, at “S.P.I.D.” could refer to the attack on Wanda Lopez at the Sigmor on S.P.I.D., which the officer inaccurately identified as a Circle K.
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:28:38 (tape at 00:19:57), 8:28:45 (tape at 00:20:04), 8:29:00 (tape at 00:20:19) (“34, suspect, did you, said there was at the Circle K, waiting for a taxi. What was his description?”; “Hispanic male, about 5 foot 9, white T-shirt or heavy T-shirt, almost a sweatshirt-type. White pants. Beard and mustache”; “Ok, sounds like the description the clerk was trying to give me on the phone. She said he was out there trying to bum a ride, armed with a knife. Possibly could be the same one.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:29:00 (tape at 00:20:19) (“Ok, sounds like the description the clerk was trying to give me on the phone. She said he was out there trying to bum a ride, armed with a knife. Possibly could be the same one.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:29:28 (tape at 00:20:47), 8:29:32 (tape at 20:53) (asking whether the Sigmor suspect “has a hat on, clean shaven or what?”; “Do you have a better description? Can you give us a better description?”).
Ruben Rivera, Nueces County Deputy Constable, Trial Test., Texas v. DeLuna, No. 83-CR–194-A (Nueces Cty., 28th Dist. Tex. July 15, 1983) at 98–100 (“[T]here was a report that the subject had been seen in this nursing [home] area next to the ballpark over here”; “a Little League park of some kind, and then I believe there’s a school and then a nursing home way up towards Kostoryz.”);
Transcribed Videotape Interview with Ruben Rivera, Nueces County Deputy Constable, in Robstown, Texas (Dec. 7, 2004) at 02:15:37–02:15:54 (“[A]n officer had broken the frequency and said that there was a subject over in the—over in the ball park area. So that’s what diverted us over there.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:30:38 (tape at 00:21:57), 8:30:48 (tape at 00:22:07), 8:31:46 (tape at 00:23:05) (reporting a suspect fleeing in “the area by Domino’s Pizza—just ran behind Domino’s Pizza as we pulled up”; “They’re giving you [?] in the area of Domino’s Pizza, possibly in that area.”; “I’m going up behind Domino’s Pizza.”).
Police Dispatch Tape, Corpus Christi Police Dep’t (Feb. 4, 1983) at 8:31:35 (tape at 00:22:54), 8:31:44 (tape at 00:23:03), 8:31:53 (tape at 00:23:12) (“Anyone near Kostoryz and McArdle?”; “Anyone near Kostoryz and McArdle?”; “OK, 21, we just needed somebody else out there with 39.”).