Fugitive couple snared by massive dragnet

Posted on May 8, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The two suspects who outran police in a stolen car, triggering a massive search by officers, dogs and helicopter, remain in jail on $250,00 bail each. James Craig Rivas, 37, and Marissa Lablanche Serafino, 33, both of Oakland, were arrested May 1 after a four-hour ordeal that included throwing a loaded shotgun out of the speeding car and breaking into a home to steal a change of clothes and another vehicle.

Both have pled not guilty to charges including felony evading arrest, assault on a police offer, possession of stolen property and weapons charges. Each was wanted on a prior warrant out of Alameda county: Rivas for vehicle theft, and Serafino for burglary.

The drama began locally at about 10:20 a.m. with an attempted break-in on Temelec Circle. Police were told that the male suspect had fled the scene in a burgundy van with a woman behind the wheel, according to a report by Police Chief Brett Sackett.

Moments later a deputy spotted the suspect vehicle on Arnold Drive at Petaluma Avenue, and pulled it over. Walking up to the vehicle, the deputy saw a male hiding in the passenger’s seat.

Sackett said the driver then sped off, causing the van to strike the deputy in the arm. Other units took up the chase but lost sight of the van near Hwy. 12 and West Spain St.

The van, which police confirmed had been stolen in Concord, was found abandoned in the 300 block of First St. W. During the escape, a loaded shotgun was thrown out of the vehicle as it neared Riverside Drive.

An area search began around the Sonoma Plaza and then branched off to the vineyard area off Lovall Valley Rd. and Gerhicke Rd. when a witness reported seeing a man running through the vineyard.

The Sheriff’s helicopter, numerous deputies, a Sheriff’s K-9 unit, and CHP ground and air units all responded to help with the search. The Sheriff’s Dispatch Center initiated a notification phone call to surrounding businesses and residences. The call described the suspects and requested anyone with information to call. 

The notification paid off at about 1 p.m. when police received a call from La Casa restaurant. The caller said a male matching the suspect’s description had asked to use his cell phone.

Deputies responded to the restaurant, guns drawn, and arrested Rivas without incident.

Meanwhile, his accomplice proved to be more elusive. The woman allegedly broke in to a residence in the 300 block of First St. W., where she changed into clothing found on the premises before stealing a Toyota Camry out of the driveway.

She did not go far. At 2:15 p.m. deputies located the stolen Camry parked on the Plaza in front of the Cheese Factory. Detectives in unmarked cars staked out the area. She reportedly strolled through least one retail shop before venturing back to the car, where she was apprehended.

The next court hearing for the duo is May 15 in Santa Rosa.