A suspect in the brutal assault last October of Aissa Wayne, daughter of the late actor John Wayne, and her financier boyfriend, Roger W. Luby, has been arrested by Newport Beach Police and is being held in the Orange County Jail on $1-million bail.
Jail records Sunday showed that Jerrel L. Hintergardt, 37, was arrested Friday by Newport Beach police and was being held on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a person with a firearm, and force or violence on a witness. He had not been arraigned.
However, a Newport Beach Police Department spokesman refused to give any information Sunday about the case, specifically whether the charges under which Hintergardt is being held relate to the Wayne/Luby assault. That spokesman said police would have statements today on the case.
The case involves the beating of Wayne, 32, and Luby, 52, at his $3-million Newport Beach home on Oct. 3, 1988. Two armed men seized the couple, bound them, and warned them their life was in danger. One of the men slashed the right Achilles tendon in Luby’s leg.
Newport Beach police, in search warrants and affidavits filed Feb. 27 in Orange County Superior Court, said they were looking for a “Jerry Hintergardt” for questioning in the case. Police said Hintergardt was an employee of a private investigator hired by Aissa Wayne’s ex-husband, Pomona orthopedic surgeon Thomas A. Gionis.
The Feb. 27 court documents said the police investigation centered on the private investigative firm hired by Gionis and that the firm’s owner, investigator O. Daniel Gal of Los Angeles, was seen parked on the street near Luby’s walled estate in Newport Beach on the morning of the Oct. 3 attack.
The court papers also said that an employee of Gal’s, identified as Jerry Hintergardt, fit an eyewitness’ description of one of the two men who assaulted Wayne and Luby. According to eyewitness Glenn Torrez, one of the men he saw leaving the Luby estate on Oct. 3 walked with a pronounced limp, was blond, and was about 6 feet, 2 inches tall.
Neither Gal nor Gionis could be reached for comment on Sunday.
The Jerrel Hintergardt who was arrested Friday fits that description, according to a anonymous source who claimed to be a friend of the Hintergardt family. The source said he and Hintergardt family members were angry and concerned because of the “secrecy” surrounding the arrest and because the man was given such a high bail.
An Orange County deputy district attorney, who asked not to be quoted by name, said on Sunday, “A million dollars bail is very, very unusual in an assault case unless it’s a VIP (very important person) involved.”
Wayne Not Notified
Wayne, in an interview Sunday at her Corona del Mar home, said police had not informed her of a suspect’s arrest. “I’m very upset I have not been notified,” she said.
Luby could not be reached for comment, but a relative at his residence said Luby had not been informed a suspect had been arrested. Wayne said, “The first either of us knew is when we got a call from a reporter.”
Wayne said that despite some emotional trauma immediately following the Oct. 3 ordeal, “I am feeling all right now.”
She and Luby were seized, bound hand and foot and pistol-whipped after returning to Luby’s estate on Oct. 3 following an aerobics workout. Police said the suspect matching the description of the man identified as Hintergardt warned Luby and Wayne during the assault. The man told the bound couple, “You’re (messing) with the wrong people. If you screw up again, you’re dead.”
Gal’s private investigative firm was hired by Gionis during a child-custody battle that stemmed from the divorce of Gionis and Wayne last summer, according to court records. The records said police found that Gal made seven telephone calls to Hintergardt on the day of the Wayne/Luby attack.
Gionis on Jan. 30 won custody of his and Wayne’s young daughter, Anastasia. An Orange County Superior Court judge denied Wayne custody, calling her “emotionally immature,” but the judge allowed Wayne visitation rights every other weekend.