By Joseph Serna and Richard Winton
8:41 AM PST, December 6, 2013
An 18-year-old Los Angeles man accused of stealing the roof panel of the wrecked Porsche that "Fast and Furious" star Paul Walker died in was arrested after apparently posting a photo of the item on Instagram.
Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives arrested James Witty on Thursday and said they are talking with a second, 25-year-old suspect and expect him to surrender soon.
Witty and the second man are suspected of stealing the roof Saturday night as the wrecked $400,000 Porsche Carrera GT was being towed away.
A photo posted to the Instagram account for @jamesonwhitty shows what the user claimed to be a piece of the Porsche from the crash: “Piece of Paul walkers car, took it off a tow truck at a stop light…#paulwalker” #rip #comeup.”
The caption also links to a second account for @Anthonyjanow, who posted a photo promoting a car meet and cruise on Dec. 28 that included photos of Walker and the second crash victim, Roger Rodas.
The caption reads: “No matter if I'm locked up for this stupid [expletive] or not this will still go on…”
L.A County Sheriff's officials said they were aware of photos, but would not confirm if they belonged to the two suspects. Witty was booked on suspicion of grand theft and tampering with evidence and is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail. He's scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
In a news release, the sheriff's department said the alleged theft occurred while the Porsche was being towed away.
"A witness saw a male exit a vehicle that was following the tow truck. The male grabbed a piece of the wrecked Porsche off the tow truck bed. The male drove away with the stolen vehicle part. The tow truck driver reported the theft to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station," the statement said.
Search warrants were served, and the sheriff's department found some of the parts at a home in Canyon Country.
Walker, 40, died Saturday from a combination of traumatic injuries and burns after the Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in crashed into a light pole in Santa Clarita and erupted in flames, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said Wednesday.
Rodas, 38, Walker's financial advisor and friend, was behind the wheel of the high-performance 2005 Porsche when it crashed. He was killed by the impact alone, a medical examiner concluded.
Since the crash, a fans' memorial has taken over the crash site and a massive tribute drive is planned in Walker's honor. Walker had made enough money that he kept a warehouse full of prized vehicles and later opened a business, Always Evolving, that customized and sold high-performance cars -- earning a place in the hearts and minds of car enthusiasts.
Footage in a tribute video is short on dialogue but does feature a line by Vin Diesel's character, with most of the cast gathered around: “The most important thing in life will be the people in this room, right here, right now.”
When Walker died, the cast of "Fast & Furious 7" was on a brief Thanksgiving break from filming in Atlanta. Universal Pictures on Wednesday officially put the film on hiatus.
"Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul's immediate family and our extended 'Fast & Furious' family of cast, crew and filmmakers," the studio said. "At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on 'Fast & Furious 7' for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise."
The studio also announced this week that it would donate a percentage of proceeds from the home entertainment sales of "Fast & Furious 6" to Walker's charity, Reach Out Worldwide. Walker and Rodas had attended a fundraiser for the nonprofit just before the crash.
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