Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Dallas: Police said the man gunned down a woman outside her office
12:02 PM CST on Wednesday, December 6, 2006
By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

He steps into one elevator after another, trying to appear casual. But when the doors close, he twists toward the panel, punching several buttons at random. Sometimes, before the doors open and he strolls through the hallways, he crosses his arms or draws his face into a momentary sneer. He smoothes his eyebrows, lowers his sunken eyes and runs his bony hands across his buzz cut. At one point, he peers nervously upward.
To the handful of workers who may have seen him Monday evening at the office building in the 6500 block of Greenville Avenue, he probably appeared to be lost, or late for an appointment.
But according to Dallas police, this is what a man looks like right before he kills.
On Tuesday, Dallas police released surveillance video chronicling nearly every step made by the man who would, after eight minutes of elevator surfing, follow a 51-year-old Garland mother outside the building and shoot her dead a few steps from the front door.
Karen Kristina Lafon was shot at 5:26 p.m. Monday. She worked in an office upstairs in the building, where she was a local support manager for the state agency that provides services to the blind.

Robbery may be motive
Authorities said the man shot her several times at close range. She was chosen, police theorize, because she was carrying bags, which her killer probably thought contained valuables. But for some reason, he left her possessions, possibly because he knew the sound of gunfire would soon bring curious ear witnesses.

Workers in the building were alarmed as word spread that any one of them could have been targeted. The surveillance video shows a few who passed the man in the elevator minutes before he pulled the trigger downstairs.
Most of Ms. Lafon's co-workers stayed home Tuesday. "The staff isn't here today," said David Jeppson, field director with the state's Division for Blind Services. Particularly shaken was one of the employees who heard the shooting, he said.
Ms. Lafon was promoted to the Greenville Avenue office about six months ago but had been working in various capacities with the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services for 26 years, co-workers said.
"She was a genuinely caring person who was concerned about each member of the staff," said Robert Marx, a regional director who has worked with Ms. Lafon for more than two decades.
"We're in the people-helping business, and anything contrary to that is foreign to us," Mr. Marx said.
Police did not release footage of the slaying. But top brass who viewed it Tuesday were said to be aghast over its grisly contents.
"This was coldblooded," said Lt. Mike Scoggins, head of the homicide unit. "Even people who aren't for the death penalty may change their minds with this one."
It was clear by Tuesday afternoon that Ms. Lafon's slaying – the city's 178th this year – rattled the Police Department.
"He picked a random victim," said Sgt. Larry Lewis, a homicide supervisor. "It could have been anyone. This could well happen again."
Police go all out
The Police Department threw nearly all its assets into the investigation. Detectives flooded the office building, asking everyone they could find whether they had seen the man on the video.
The department's crime analysis team spent all day poring over arrest reports and mug shots, on the off chance that someone fitting the man's description may have robbed someone else, somewhere, sometime. Gang officers scrutinized the man's picture, looking for something familiar.
Operation Disruption – a 60-officer strike team – fanned out across the northeast sector, particularly the problematic Five Points area near Park Lane and Greenville, showing stills from the video surveillance to apartment managers, business owners, store clerks and anyone else who may have encountered the man.
Schepp's Dairy has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the man. Anyone with tips can call 214-671-3654.
Several investigators recognized the role that luck was playing in their nascent investigation: What if there were no images from the video system, which was just installed a month ago? Would they have known to dust the elevator buttons for fingerprints?
But for the video images, detectives may not have known Ms. Lafon was a random robbery victim and not the deliberate target of someone she knew. They might not know what he looks like – 5 feet 7 inches tall, Hispanic, with close-cropped hair, a thin build and wearing a dark or Navy blue jacket with white stripes on the sleeves and sides.
"We want to get this guy," said Sgt. Eugene Reyes, who is supervising the investigation.

Slaying suspect slipped by
He faced probation violation arrest when killing caught on video

11:45 PM CST on Wednesday, December 6, 2006
By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

The man who Dallas police say was captured on surveillance video gunning down a 51-year-old office worker during a failed robbery had violated his probation for an earlier robbery and could have been arrested a month ago.
Jose Heriberto Castro, 24, is a Mexican citizen who came to the U.S. legally, federal officials said. They were unclear about whether he could have been eligible for deportation as a result of the 2005 robbery but added that they never took action and were not asked by local authorities to deport him.


Anonymous said...

It's funny that crimes like this happens, and everyone wants to point fingers from the State goverment down to the city officals. This subject should have been deported back to Mexico from his first crime. Now a person is dead and no one is saying anything about it. These issues need to be brougt to our State leaders to hold those responcible for crimes like this. This better not happen to any of my family, or this State will have hell to pay.

Deborah Vann said...

Karen was married to my brother in 1973. I was devastated when I saw this on "The First 48 Hours". I'm sick of illegal aliens being in our country to run amuck!