A suspect in the brutal assault last October of Aissa Wayne, daughter of the late actor John Wayne, and her financier boyfriend, Roger Luby, has been arrested, it was learned Sunday.
Orange County Jail records showed that Jerrel L. Hintergardt, 37, was arrested Friday by Newport Beach police for investigation of criminal conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a person with a firearm, and force or violence on a witness. He was jailed in lieu of $1-million bail set by a Municipal judge, pending formal arraignment, probably today.
A police spokesman Sunday refused to provide further information, saying official statements would be issued today.
Wayne, 32, and Luby, 52, were confronted at his $3-million Newport Beach home Oct. 3, 1988, by two armed men who bound the couple, pistol-whipped them and warned them their life was in danger. One of the men slashed the Achilles’ tendon in Luby’s right leg.
Investigators said one of the assailants, matching the description of the man in custody, warned Luby and Wayne: “You’re (messing) with the wrong people. If you screw up again, you’re dead.”
In search warrants and affidavits filed Feb. 27 in Orange County Superior Court, Newport Beach police said they were seeking a “Jerry Hintergardt” for questioning in the case. Police said Hintergardt was an employee of O. Daniel Gal, a Los Angeles private investigator hired by Aissa Wayne’s ex-husband, Pomona orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas A. Gionis.
The court documents said the police had learned that Gal was seen in a car parked on the street near Luby’s walled estate on the morning of the attack.
The court papers also said that an employee of Gal’s, identified as Hintergardt, fit an eyewitness’ description of one of the two men involved in the assault. According to the witness, Glenn Torrez, one of the men he saw leaving the Luby home walked with a pronounced limp, was blond, and was about 6 feet, 2 inches tall.
Hintergardt fits the description, according to an 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 involved.”
Wayne, in an interview Sunday at her Corona Del Mar home, said police had not told her of an arrest.
“I’m very upset I have not been notified,” she said.
Luby could not be reached, but a relative at his residence said Luby also had not been informed,
Gal’s private investigative firm was hired by Gionis during a child-custody battle involving the couple’s divorce 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 allowed visitation rights every other weekend.
Neither Gal nor Gionis could be reached for comment on Sunday.