Los Angeles: Los Angeles police today announced the arrest of Rogelio Pereira, 55, during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles. Pereira had been wanted since 1993 in the hit-and-run death of freelance photographer Douglas Burrows, who was 29 years old when he died.
"I could not believe it," said Detective Josephine Mapson, who supervises all the traffic investigators at the Central Traffic Division. "This case stood out for me over the years because Douglas’s father, John, would call us every year on the anniversary of the accident and ask if we had caught the suspect."
Mapson had been hoping Pereira would be in custody by May Day so she could tell John Burrows the good news when his annual call came, but the day came and went without a call and Pereira was still at large.
Detectives assigned to the US Marshal’s Pacific Southwest Regional Task Force had been zeroing in on Pereira for the last two years after Mapson had mentioned the case to an investigator in 2004. Before that, detectives had done everything they knew to get the word out, especially along the US-Mexico border towns, that Pereira had been identified just three days after the collision. Profiles on "Prime Suspect" and "America’s Most Wanted" turned up nothing.
Douglas Burrows died in an early afternoon 1993 hit-and-run crash as he was driving through downtown Los Angeles. An 18-wheeled truck hit his passenger car, trapping Douglas inside as flames engulfed the car. Witnesses saw the truck driver run away and detectives identified him three days later, getting a felony warrant for vehicular manslaughter.
Mapson received a call from the task force on June 19 of this year. Two LAPD detectives were at the border and they expected to have Pereira in custody within a day. "I held my breath the whole day," Mapson said. "It occurred to me that I needed to find out what happened to John Burrows, but I didn’t want to call him until I knew for sure."
The arrest happened the next day when Mexican authorities expelled Pereira from Mexico as an "undesirable person" as he had no legal standing in Mexico. When Mexican police dropped him at the Calexico border crossing, US border agents detained Pereira on the 1993 felony warrant. Two LAPD detectives, Joe Bahena and Leman Potter, both assigned to the US Marshal’s task force, picked up Periera the next day and brought him to Los Angeles, where he will stand trial for manslaughter.
Detectives also found Periera was wanted by the California Department of Corrections and the Yuma County Sheriff’s Department in Arizona. No bail was set for Pereira as he awaits trial.