A 19-year-old man charged in connection with the murder of a German tourist sobbed as he was brought before a judge here Thursday while police set up a dragnet for his alleged accomplice and girlfriend, a short, stocky woman said to have purple hair.
At one point Thursday afternoon, Miami police announced they had detained the girlfriend, Patsy Jones, 19, and indicated she would be charged in the sensational slaying that state officials fear could prove costly to Florida’s $30-billion annual tourist industry.
Later, however, police said the woman being questioned was not Jones. As the search for her and another possible suspect continued late Thursday, police conducted a door-to-door search of an inner-city apartment building.
Ricondall (Rico) Wiggins was arrested Wednesday night, less than 24 hours after Uwe-Wilhelm Rakebrand, 33, an agricultural engineer from Adendorf, Germany, was shot to death. Rakebrand and his wife, Kathrin, 27, had just arrived at Miami International Airport and were headed toward Miami Beach in a red rental car when they were bumped from behind by a truck.
Kathrin Rakebrand, reading from a safety brochure advising tourists not to stop if accosted by so-called “bump-and-rob” thugs, urged her husband to drive on. As he did, the truck pulled alongside the couple, and a single shot was fired from a hunting rifle.
Police said Jones may have pulled the trigger. A .30-caliber carbine with a sawed-off barrel, identified as the murder weapon, was discovered late Wednesday at the home of Wiggins’ aunt, police said. A yellow Ryder rental truck that police believe was used in the attack has also been impounded.
Rakebrand was the fourth German and the eighth foreign visitor to be killed in South Florida since last October, and his slaying touched off a worldwide flurry of press reports about the dangers of coming to the Miami area.
Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles reconvened a special task force on crime against tourists set up last spring after the brutal slaying of another German visitor, Barbara Meller Jensen.