U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force Commander Lenny DePaul told New Times yesterday that the apprehension of Jose Alfaro at his mother's condominium in New York last August was no piece of cake. "He put up a pretty good fight, he resisted us pretty good," DePaul said of Alfaro.
"We'd had his mother's house under surveillance -- she lives in a little town outside of New York City -- and we'd seen his mom come out walking the dog. When we decided to go in he was hiding upstairs and he was very resistant, he did not go easily. He was literally fighting the investigators."
Tonight's premiere of Manhunters on A&E at 10 p.m. features, in a second episode titled "Buried," footage of the task force tracking fugitive Alfaro to his mother's house in New York. Alfaro had fled there in March of 2009 to escape a potential murder charge in the case of Stephen Febonio.
Just days after Febonio's body was discovered buried in a freezer at a growhouse in Delray Beach,
Alfaro, 28, went on lam. Alfaro had lived at the residence in Delray a year earlier, and an associate of Alfaro's had evidently tipped off police about the buried freezer. Unconfirmed sources say Alfaro may have first boarded a plane to Costa Rica but for some reason failed to disembark. He ended up in New York. "They always go home to their mommies," Palm Beach County sheriff's Detective Sean Oliver told the Sun Sentinel.
Alfaro, who was the last person seen with Febonio the night he disappeared, had been previously interviewed by investigators in connection with the murder. A probable cause affidavit reveals that when Alfaro was questioned by police, he spoke about his friend Febonio in the past tense. "He was missing so long, he won't be walking through any doors," Alfaro had told investigators.
Commander DePaul, who has worked as a US Marshal for 19 years, says the task force in Florida contacted his unit because of Alfaro's ties to New York. Alfaro's brother worked at a mall in Poughkeepsie, and his mother lived in Newburgh. They'd also had a possible address in Manhattan. But following information from a confidential police source in Florida, DePaul says, the unit had "switched gears." When they questioned Alfaro's mother "she was pretty reluctant to give us any information," he says. "That's just the way mothers are."
The U.S. Marshal's Task Force has six regional task forces across the U.S.: Manhunters camera crews ride along with the New York/New Jersey regional task force as they trace criminals on the run.
"When a case comes in if it looks decent enough to film, we'll hit the ground [with the camera crews]," DePaul says. "Working with Manhunters helps us, it's positive press for us because the task force is congressionally funded. People can see how their money is being spent. These are pretty violent felony fugitives -- the types of people we're going after usually have an average of four to six prior arrests. We're doing good work."