Renell Lettsome Arrested for David Geiger’s Murder

0
1046

Renell Lettsome, who is suspected of bludgeoning longtime St. John resident David Geiger to death and brutally beating his teenage son Nathan before setting their Grunwald home afire with them in it, was advised of his rights on Thursday, December 1, in V.I. Superior Court before Judge Rhys Hodge.

There are arrest warrants outstanding for St. John residents Nester Colaire and Robert Ferguson in connection with the murder and attempted murder, according to Ernest Bason, chief of the Criminal Division of Virgin Islands of the United States Department of Justice.

“Colaire and Ferguson are wanted for aiding and abetting, accessory after the fact, arson and first degree attempted murder,” Bason told St. John Tradewinds.

The two men, who have not been identified by V.I Police Department and whose ages have not been released, are suspected of going to Geiger’s Estate Grunwald home with Lettsome after the murder and beating, according to Basin. Lettsome, Ferguson and Colaire allegedly removed the murder weapon and set the house on fire to conceal the crime, leaving the unconscious Nathan inside, according to Basin.

Nathan, who was rescued from the fire by neighbors, is healing from severe injuries and is with family members.

Facing Life Sentence
Lettsome, 21, was extradited from the British Virgin Islands on Wednesday, November 30. The Estate Carolina man was wanted for murder in the first degree, attempted murder, assault in the first degree, assault in the third degree, arson and using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.

There is no capital punishment in the V.I., so the stiffest penalty for Lettsome would be life in prison without the possibility of parole for first degree murder, according to Bason.

Lettsome will be arraigned in Superior Court on Thursday, December 8, Bason added.

Tullius Stewart Out on Bail
Tullius Stewart, who was charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property in relation to the Geiger case, pled not guilty to those charges in another court room on December 1.

Authorities testified they do not believe Stewart was involved in the fatal attack.

Despite the $100,000 bail set in the arrest warrant issued for him, Stewart’s bail was dropped by Judge Leon Kendall. Stewart was released on his own recognizance at his advice of rights hearing on November 25.

Arrest warrants were issued for Lettsome and Stewart on Thursday, November 17, and announced by V.I. Police Department officials on Monday, November 21.

Although arrest warrants also were issued for Ferguson and Colaire on November 17, authorities did not release the information.

“They wanted to wait for Lettsome’s capture,” said Bason.

“Colaire and Ferguson helped Lettsome – Lettsome has a very good statement,” the Criminal Division chief said.

Assistant Attorney General Bason would not elaborate on his comment.

V.I.P.D. spokesman Sgt. Thomas Hannah said he had no knowledge of the two additional arrest warrants.

“I was not aware of the other two arrest warrants – this is the first I’m hearing that they have warrants for these individuals,” said Sgt. Hannah. “No one made me aware.”

“The exact words given to me were that there were persons of interest – that is the information that I was given,” Sgt. Hannah continued.

Lettsome contacted law enforcement officials on Tortola early Sunday morning, November 27, according to Sgt. Hannah.

“Lettsome was brought back to the territory on November 30, and arrived on U.S. soil around 5:37 p.m. at which point the warrant was served on him and he was arrested,” said Sgt. Hannah. “Bail was set at $1 million, and unable to post bail, he was remanded to the corrections facility on St. Thomas.”

The murder suspect was escorted by British Virgin Islands police supported by members of the VIPD Major Crime Squad, Sgt. Hannah added.

“Speedy” Extradition
A high ranking USVI attorney and members of the VIPD Major Crime Squad travelled to Tortola on Tuesday, November 29, to secure a “speedy” extradition for Lettsome.

“We didn’t see any real problem in getting him back to the territory,” said the VIPD spokesperson. “We had to go through extradition procedures, but it was a plus that he turned himself in – it made the process much smoother, much easier.” “The fact that Lettsome turned himself in tells you that there was a willingness on his part to come back, which made the extradition process easier,” Sgt. Hannah added.

Thanksgiving Day Sightings
Lettsome, who reportedly left the territory after the October 29 murder, attempted murder and arson, reportedly shaved off his dreadlocks.

Several residents reported seeing the murder suspect in Coral Bay on Thanksgiving Day, November 24.

Newspaper and internet reports of Lettsome’s arrest warrant with pictures of the murder suspect had been widely circulated in the British Virgin Islands.

A Tortola resident wrote to the St. John Tradewinds after reading an on-line account of Geiger’s murder and Lettsome’s arrest warrant on October 21.

“I have forwarded a link of your article with the picture of the evil man wanted for this heinous crime to every newspaper in Tortola, begging them to help us find this man,” according to the letter.

The V.I. Daily News, which circulates on Tortola, has run numerous articles on the Geiger murder case including accounts of Lettsome’s arrest warrant, pictures of the wanted man and the fact that he was believed to be on the island.

Girlfriend’s Affidavit
VIPD officials issued arrest warrants for Lettsome, Stewart, Colaire and Ferguson based on an affidavit from Lettsome’s girlfriend.

The VIPD spokesperson declined to comment on the girlfriend, known as Amber, a Coral Bay resident with whom Lettsome has a young child.

Amber house sat for Geiger shortly before he was murdered and Geiger believed that she took the missing money from his home, according to one of the victim’s close friends.

Geiger reportedly confronted Amber in front of Lettsome at her mother’s Coral Bay hand-painted clothing store, JuJu Mon located across from the Coral Bay Fire Station.

Girlfriend Says Stewart Took Money
Amber told VIPD detectives that Stewart took the missing $50,000 while she was staying at Geiger’s Estate Grunwald home, according to court documents.

Amber told VIPD investigators that on October 26 Stewart gave her $50 dollars to get something to eat and left $8,000 in her car.

On October 28, Lettsome and his girlfriend checked into the Sapphire Beach Hotel on St. Thomas with their young son and Amber’s other son.

Amber reportedly told police that Lettsome left St. Thomas around 3 p.m. and returned to St. John. Lettsome went to Geiger’s house where the murder suspect either intended to rob Geiger or convince him that Amber — Lettsome’s girlfriend — did not take the money, according to published reports.

Lettsome returned to the Sapphire Beach Hotel around 8:30 a.m. on October 29, wearing different clothes with a bandanna covering a deep gash on his left hand and scratches on his face, according to Amber’s account.

Lettsome then confessed to killing Geiger and leaving Nathan in a pool of blood, the girlfriend reportedly told VIPD officials. He also returned to Geiger’s home with two other men to remove the murder weapon and set the place on fire, according to Amber.

Residents Question Girlfriend’s Account
Some St. John residents are questioning Amber’s account of the events leading up to the murder and the attack itself.

The girlfriend was seen in Coral Bay days after Geiger’s murder with her two children. Amber’s mother reportedly asked people at a Coral Bay Halloween party on October 31, to spread the word that she was not involved with the murder.

In early November Amber, her two children and her mother, were seen getting into a sedan in Coral Bay and they have not been seen since. The mother’s clothing store, JuJu Mon, remains closed.

Amber has not made a deal with law enforcement officials, although she is currently not charged with a crime or considered a suspect.

“There has been no deal or plea with anyone,” said Bason, adding that he could not comment on Amber’s whereabouts.

Stewart Charged with Grand Larceny
Stewart was wanted for grand larceny and possession of stolen property in connection with the Geiger murder based on Amber’s account, according to VIPD law enforcement officials.

Stewart contacted VIPD officials on Monday afternoon, November 21, hours after a VIPD press conference on St. John where Commissioner Lewis announced the arrest warrants, according to Sgt. Hannah.

“He called several hours after the press conference and spoke with investigators,” said the VIPD spokesperson. “He told them when and where he was coming in to the territory and they made arrangements to meet him at the airport.”

Stewart, who returned to the V.I. on Thursday, November 24, was not escorted to the territory despite his arrest warrant being issued on the National Crime Information Center wire across the U.S., Sgt. Hannah added.

“He was not escorted to the V.I.; he got through – this happens,” said Sgt. Hannah. “He was met at the Cyril King Airport around 6 p.m. and taken into custody and at the time his bail was set at $100,000.”

Stewart Released Without Bail
Stewart was released on his own recognizance without bail by Territorial Court Judge Leon Kendall at his advice of rights hearing on Friday, November 25.

Judge Kendall commended Stewart for turning himself in and ordered him to maintain his employment in California.

“At the advice of rights hearing the next day, Stewart was released on his own recognizance,” said the VIPD spokesperson. “The judge noted because he had returned voluntarily the bail was dropped.”

Law enforcement officials are still investigating the horrifying incident. Anyone with information is asked to call the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 715-5522 or the Major Crime Unit at 715-5534 or 715-5546.