Tip leads police to run-away suspect
ROARING SPRING – The saga Friday in Morrisons Cove possessed all the elements of a drama:
A leap from an upper-floor window, with law enforcement at the door; a run to freedom, a friend to act as a decoy, bloodhounds on the trail, a pair of helicopters, lawmen from multiple agencies, tips from citizens; the fugitive skulking through the streets of town, hiding in the woods and, finally, back in town and captured on a rooftop.
It began about 6 a.m. on Sugar Street in the borough, when sheriff’s deputies and officers from several departments converged on a brown bungalow to serve multiple warrants on Caleb L. Lanzendorfer, 23 – including one based on an assault-by-prisoner charge and another based on a simple assault.
Officers came in force because they knew that serving the warrants on Lanzendorfer was likely to go beyond the routine, according to Roaring Spring Lt. Greg Wyandt.
“He’s a runner,” Wyandt said.
Online records show that a total of 14 criminal cases for Lanzendorfer have reached the level of Blair County Court, resulting in guilty pleas for resisting arrest, harassment, theft, criminal mischief and driving under the influence and four jail sentences, three with a maximum of 23 months.
In spite of the large number of arresting officers at his house, Lanzendorfer got away, dropping about 15 feet from a back window, then lighting out toward a group of trailers, beyond which were woods, not far from the Roaring Spring paper mill, according Wyandt and a fellow officer.
Officers at the scene saw him flee, but couldn’t catch him.
They summoned the dogs, the helicopters and reinforcements.
In addition to the sheriff’s deputies and the officers from Roaring Spring, there were state police, plus officers from Martinsburg, Freedom Township, Williamsburg, Greenfield Township and North Woodbury Township.
At a garage in town, Lanzendorfer – dressed only in red athletic shorts – went out one way, while a friend, Terry Martz Jr., who had dressed the same way, allegedly to fool the officers, went out the door in another direction, according to Wyandt.
Officers followed the decoy, and Lanzendorfer got away again, Wyandt said.
As the search continued, the dogs picked up some scents, Wyandt said.
There were calls from residents trying to help.
Police looked in likely places, searching garages and sheds.
But nothing came of those efforts, and about 1 p.m., the outside officers left, with Lanzendorfer still on the loose.
But then about 2:30 p.m., Roaring Spring Chief Milton Fields got a tip that Lanzendorfer was on the 200 block of Cherry Street.
When officers arrived, they found Lanzendorfer on the roof of a side porch, and this time, the quarry didn’t escape.
“He realized we had him,” Wyandt said. “Pinned to the roof.”
He had cuts and bruises on his legs from his travels in the woods with such minimal protection.
He’d been rousted from bed at the beginning, Wyandt said.
The house on whose porch roof the officers found him was an acquaintance of Lanzendorfer’s, Wyandt said.
That acquaintance just arrived at his house about the time police did, Wyandt said.
Lanzendorfer may have been hoping for refuge there, he suggested.
“We got to him first,” Wyandt said.
Police will likely charge Lanzendorfer for Friday’s escapades with resisting arrest and flight to avoid apprehension, Wyandt said.
Lanzendorfer’s mother, Wendy Musselman, who lives in the house from whose second floor Lanzendorfer jumped, was charged with hindering apprehension, having been warned previously that would happen if she allowed her son to come back, according to Wyandt.
Martz was also charged with hindering apprehension, he said.
Musselman was out on 10 percent of $60,000 bail Friday evening, according to Blair County Prison.
Martz was in Blair County Prison in lieu of $50,000 straight bail.
The neighborhood where the chase began is generally “very peaceful,” said neighbor Joy Smith, who was sitting with her husband, Brad, on their front porch Friday afternoon.
They knew something was up the previous day, however, when they saw a law enforcement officer waiting in a car down the block, they said.
Brad missed most of the excitement Friday, because he was out of town, only learning of the helicopters when a friend called him, he said.
Lanzendorfer knew that if he didn’t get away Friday morning, he would be going to jail directly, Wyandt said.
“He’s like water,” Wyandt said. “If there’s a way to get out, he’ll find it.”
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.