Adios, mofos! Or, more appropriately, aloha, as I'm blowing this Orange County taco stand for Hawaii. That's because my 85-year-old father called a tip into the LAPD's million-dollar, find-Chris-Dorner hotline Sunday that he's sure is going to pay off and win him the loot so he can relocate from Smog Berdoo to the Aloha State. I'll be joining him as his valet.
See, my dad spotted Dorner, dressed as a woman, walking downhill toward Running Springs about 45 minutes after the triple-homicide suspect's burning truck was spotted at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
When my pa mentioned on the phone Dorner seemed to be heading for Green Valley or Arrowbear, and I informed him the suspect's mother owns undeveloped property in Arrowbear, he nearly dropped the receiver. "You don't say," pops said in a tone that indicated his Magnum, P.I. gears were turning in his head.
So here's the tale that was called in: My father and some of his same-age friends were heading up to Snow Valley Thursday morning for their once- or twice-weekly ski day. (Super Seniors ski free!) Around 9:15 a.m., they reached a spot about a quarter mile from the resort entrance, where they made out the figure of what dad called an "obese" person walking down the hill on the down-slope side, meaning against traffic.
The way the person was dressed indicated this was a woman, perhaps wearing colored glasses. As they drew closer, they could see she was African-American. My dad figured she had just applied for a job at Snow Valley and was heading back home.
Keep in mind, no one in Big Bear or the San Bernardino Mountains for that matter had yet been informed Dorner was believed to be up there. Authorities had not yet figured out the burning Nissan was Dorner's; at that hour, there were still reported sightings of him in San Diego County.
But the "woman" walking downhill stuck in my dad's mind because of "her" size and the fact that she was walking alone on a lonely stretch of mountain road in the cold.
Down by the ski lodge, he and his pals later saw a caravan of police vehicles from different agencies whizzing by on the highway headed in the direction of Big Bear. "Must be something going on up there," one of them said, still clueless about the Dorner connection.
A police tractor pulling a trailer indicated to them cops were bringing up an armored vehicle, and later, they saw what dad called a "huge" helicopter flying over Snow Valley toward Big Bear. For those unfamiliar with the mountain resorts, they take their names from their relative locations, Snow Valley outside Running Springs being in the lower lands than Big Bear's Snow Summit. Dorner's vehicle was found off a fire road between Summit and its sister Bear Mountain resort.
After my father returned to the flats and got exposed to the live Dorner coverage, it hit him that the woman he saw may have actually been the killer, a male. He called his ski buddies who replied something along the lines of, "Coker, have you been sniffing your model-airplane glue again?"
Sure, it was a longshot. But think about how brilliant that would be: set a device off inside your broken-down truck so it's burning and, dressed as a woman, perhaps catch a ride from, say, a Big Bear food-service vendor who is heading downhill and can only take you as far as Snow Valley. Then hoof it to areas in Arrowbear or elsewhere, where cabin-to-cabin searches will not happen, or perhaps catch another ride to San Bernardino, where, trust me, a 6-foot, 270-pound, African-American man or woman would blend in. It's no worse than any other theory.
On Sunday, when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced the $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner's capture–the largest reward ever offered in this region–it further convinced my dad he really may have seen the most wanted man in America.
Dad called the number the mayor and police chief provided. The first two times, he received a recorded message that was very vague. It simply informed the caller what the number was that was called and suggested a message be left. No "This is the Christopher Dorner hotline" or any indication it was a police number. So my dad called a third time and left a message with his number.
LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Andrew Neiman said at a just-concluded press conference that more than 600 clues have rolled in since the reward was announced yesterday, some being specific sightings and others being pieces of information that require follow-up. Detectives are prioritizing each message to determine which will be pursued first. Call 213.486.6860 if you have something that can get you entered in the million-dollar sweepstakes.
But don't count on receiving a cent now that dad's got this thing locked up. I have an appointment for a grass-skirt fitting this afternoon.