Local News

Jul 29, 2014 5:48 PM by Janine Reyes

CrimeStoppers Partnership with Police Solves Crimes, Prosecution can be Tricky

CORPUS CHRISTI -- A 48-year-old man is in jail tonight thanks to an anonymous tip made last week to the non-profit CrimeStoppers.

CrimeStoppers has been around in Corpus Christi for 33 years now, but, there are still a lot of misconceptions about how the program works and board members are working to fix that.

One case where the program proved critical began in February 2013 when 24-year-old Samuel Moore was stabbed to death.

Police quickly arrested Mark Baker, charging him with murder. Days later, Baker walked out of court a free man when prosecutors dropped the charges.

"We got a CrimeStoppers tip that said that the person who was arrested was not responsible for the crime," Corpus Christi police officer Kirk Stowers explained, "and then provided information on who was responsible for the crime."

Without CrimeStoppers police might have never arrested Marty Warford instead. He's now facing charges for Moore's death.

Officer Stowers works closely with the CrimeStoppers 14-member board. None of them work in law enforcement. "We're all from different fields in Corpus Christi, and different industries, making sure that we have the city covered," Board Member D'Anne Buquete explained.

The program is separate from the police department, Stowers serves as the law enforcement liaison. "I'm responsible for the tips that come in and distribute those tips to the detectives who are working the case," he explained.

If those tips lead to an arrest, not prosecution, the tipster gets cash. Rewards cap out at $1,000. "It is a set system and electronic system that goes in, you put in the type of crime and it calculates the amount for you," Buquete explained.

The anonymous tipster must call CrimeStoppers to follow up on their tip to learn of their reward. If their tip is granted a reward, they then pick up the cash using a special code at a bank.

The program can be problematic.

For example, Larry Myers arrest followed a CrimeStoppers tip. His attorney questioned the credibility of an anonymous source who earned cash for turning him in.

"I had to go and testify to say I do not know who this person is, it is completely anonymous and I was able to explain the entire process for CrimeStoppers and how they're issued a code number and we identify through that code number and not by a name," Stowers elaborated.

Myers was later convicted.

Each day Corpus Christi CrimeStoppers receives 20-40 tips on a variety of crimes. CrimeStoppers does not have to be featuring a crime in order for a reward to be available.

As long as CrimeStoppers is paying, Buquet says the community is winning. "Until I got on the board three years ago, I didn't realize what it is doing," Buquet explained, "I mean it is stopping crime on our streets, we're making a huge difference."

If you report information to police before going to CrimeStoppers all bets are off. You cannot get a CrimeStoppers reward at that point because you are no longer anonymous.

To learn more about Corpus Christi CrimeStoppers, click here.

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