$39,000 in Loot Recovered; Suspect Flees

Times Staff Writer

Authorities had staked out the Bellflower home, waiting for a signal from a mail carrier before moving in. The signal came as Eric Wayne Schroeder, a former seaman, accepted two packages and began walking toward his backyard.

Schroeder, however, spotted the officers and ran away before they could close in for an arrest. Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies said Monday that they have been looking for him ever since he disappeared April 23.

Schroeder, 32, is suspected of robbing the cruise ship SS Independence of $39,000 last month while it was tied up at a pier in Honolulu, investigators said Monday.

Arrested in Honolulu

Honolulu police arrested him eight hours after the April 13 robbery but had to release him for lack of evidence, Honolulu Police Lt. Redge Roberts said.

Police said Schroeder once worked aboard the Independence but was fired about a month before the robbery. Armed with a handgun, he allegedly went to the ship purser's office and found the safe open, Roberts said.

After allegedly tying up the purser and taking the cash from the ship's safe, he escaped undetected because of his familiarity with the ship, Roberts added. The purser identified Schroeder from a personnel photo that was distributed to airlines, the lieutenant said.

The day after the robbery, an airlines ticket agent recognized Schroeder from the photo and notified police. Schroeder was arrested while waiting to board a flight to Los Angeles, but Roberts said they found no money on him and were unable to keep him in custody.

Acting on a hunch, investigators checked with U.S. Postal Service investigators to determine if the suspect had sent any packages to himself at his mother's address in Bellflower. Word came back that he had, and Postal Service investigators intercepted those packages when they reached California, Roberts said.

Money Removed

Investigators removed the $39,000 from the packages and sent them on to the Bellflower address.

Meanwhile, sheriff's deputies and Postal Service agents had set up a stakeout, Roberts said.

Deputies have issued an all-points bulletin for Schroeder, who is described as 6 feet, 1 inch tall, 185 pounds, with reddish blond curly hair and green eyes.

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