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Suspect arrested in Forestville triple homicide

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 | Posted by

By JULIE JOHNSON

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A man suspected of killing three men two weeks ago during a marijuana deal at a home near Forestville has been arrested in Alabama,

Raleigh Butler, left, of Sebastopol, was killed Feb. 5 with Todd Klarkowski, center, of Boulder, Colo., and Richard Lewin, right, of Huntington, N.Y. in Forestville.

authorities said Monday.

Mark Cappello, 46, of Central City, Colo., was being held without bail Monday at a jail in Mobile, Ala., on a fugitive from justice warrant issued from Sonoma County, Mobile County sheriff’s officials said.

Cappello is a suspect in the Feb. 5 slaying of Sebastopol native Raleigh Butler, 24, and two other men, Todd Klarkowski, 42, of Boulder, Colo., and Richard Lewin, 46, of Huntington, N.Y., Sonoma County Sheriff’s Lt. Dennis O’Leary said.

Butler, Klarkowski and Lewin had arranged to buy a large amount of marijuana at the Ross Station Road home where Butler’s mother lived, Sonoma County sheriff’s officials said. Butler’s mother was out of town at the time.

All three men were shot and killed sometime around noon that day by an assailant who left behind no money and only a scant amount of marijuana, officials said.

It was unclear Monday how detectives connected Cappello to the killings. O’Leary declined to say whether they suspect Cappello acted alone.

“We do not believe that there is anybody related to the crime that occurred that is still in Sonoma County,” O’Leary said.

On Feb. 14, Cappello was pulled over for a traffic violation at about 10:20 a.m. on eastbound Interstate 10 west of Mobile, Mobile County sheriff’s spokeswoman Lori Myles said.

During the traffic stop, Mobile deputies found a search warrant linked to the vehicle, a white 1995 Ford Bronco, stemming from the Sonoma County triple homicide case, Myles said. They alerted Sonoma County sheriff’s detectives, who then secured a warrant for Cappello’s arrest, Myles said.

Detectives had already linked Cappello to the crime, O’Leary said. Cappello declined to speak with detectives following his arrest, he said.

Sonoma County crime scene investigators traveled to Mobile to examine the Bronco, and another group of detectives traveled to Colorado to search for additional evidence and conduct interviews.

Some people who know Cappello in Central City, a mountain casino community, have been wondering what befell him after detectives raided his E. Third High Street home last week, neighbor Ron Montoya said.

Cappello is a member of the city’s historical preservation committee and has often been an outspoken participant at City Council meetings, according to Montoya.

“It’s just so hard to believe, everyone said the same thing, I wonder what he did,” Montoya said.

It remained unclear how the slain men knew one another.

O’Leary declined to comment on whether Cappello and Klarkowski, who both lived in Colorado, knew each other before the confrontation in Forestville. Central City and Boulder are about 40 miles apart.

“I don’t want information out there that could jeopardize our investigation,” O’Leary said. “We can’t discuss the involvement of anybody.”

Cappello remained in custody Monday at the Mobile Metro Jail and was awaiting extradition to Sonoma County.

A man who said he was Cappello’s relative declined to comment. Other family members couldn’t immediately be reached.

Butler was an avid snowboarder and had been living in Truckee since he graduated from Analy High School, his family said.

Klarkowski also had strong ties to Wisconsin and is survived by a teenage daughter, according to bankruptcy records. He worked at a paper mill for more than a decade in Green Bay, Wis.

Klarkowski was handed a 10-month federal prison sentence in 2004 after he was convicted of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, court records show.

Lewin worked as a stockbroker, according to political donation documents. He was a lifelong resident of the town of Huntington on Long Island.

Anyone with information about the case can call Sonoma County Sheriff’s Detective Brandon Cutting at 565-2185.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@ press democrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

Writer Spotlight

Andrea Granahan is our West County correspondent.
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