Published January 13, 2015
This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," December 28, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Was there a plot in Florida to kill a prosecutor? Stunning new information is emerging about an escaped inmate's terrifying plan. Accused serial rapist Reynaldo Rapalo broke out of jail last week. He was caught late Monday night, and it was not a moment too soon. He told another inmate that he was planning to kill a prosecutor, then disappeared to his homeland, to Honduras.
Joining us live on the phone from Miami is Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the state attorney for Miami-Dade County. She was being guarded while Rapalo was on the loose.
KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE, STATE ATTORNEY FOR MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Good evening, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: First of all, tell me about this threat. And I understand that it involved, or at least three prosecutors were put under guard after he escaped.
RUNDLE: Well, Greta, I think it's very clear to the world that what we know is that Rapalo is a violent, dangerous person. He was a fugitive at the time. And he told inmates who were part of his plan to escape that he was going to try to get to Honduras, and on his way, he was going to kill the prosecutors.
So we have a process within the office, and it's not an uncommon thing, unfortunately, that prosecutors are threatened. And we put that into place, and then we immediately proceeded to make application for a wiretap because our whole purpose was to try to find out what he was saying and who he was talking to about executing his escape in the community and then to Honduras.
VAN SUSTEREN: How did you first get wind of it? I mean, who gave the first call to you that he was out and that there was a risk to you and other prosecutors in the office?
RUNDLE: Well, we have been working hand and hand with the Metro-Dade Police Department, and they do a superb job at this. And my lawyers called me, I guess it was two days after the escape, and called me first thing in the morning and said, We've got a serious situation here.
All the lawyers — I had about seven of the most veteran, intelligent, well-versed in the area of wiretap law — we sat in the conference room. We sat with the lead detective in the case. We went through the facts. We had a judge on standby because they had told this inmate, when the police had interviewed the inmate, that what was his plan, and he said, We're going to get the prosecutors first, and then I'm going to escape to Honduras.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, he was set for trial for February for seven sexual assaults, ages 11 to 79 are the victims, is that right?
RUNDLE: Greta, we think that that was a big part of his intention to escape. He'd mentioned to many inmates that he was concerned about the upcoming trial. His trial is set on February 6. So in five weeks, we have every intention of going into that courtroom, trying the case and presenting our evidence. We have anywhere between 7 and 11 schoolgirls, mothers and grandmothers who were viciously and violently raped by this individual, and we have taped confessions and we have DNA matches in six of the seven cases we actually filed charges in. So you know, I think he knows that our office is well on our way to putting him away for life.
VAN SUSTEREN: Were there any rapes or sexual assaults of any kind that are linked to him in the time that he had escaped? Anything happen in the community?
RUNDLE: Well, you know, interestingly enough, Greta, our position has always been he is a violent, dangerous fugitive and he's a threat to the community. And I have just learned in the last 24 hours, once he was taken into custody, that he, in fact, had spotted two women on Christmas Eve. It's called Noche Buena down here for some of our community. Two women were roasting a pig, and he told the police, I had the urge to assault them, have dinner and take refuge in their home.
And so when asked, Well, why didn't you assault them, he said, I was too concerned that I wouldn't get to Honduras if I did. So clearly, he had the urges to assault other people. He had had the intention of doing it a number of times, not just that night but others. So I think that overall, we're really very fortunate and blessed that he didn't do that.
VAN SUSTEREN: The chief said that he thought that he had help in the community. If, indeed, he had help in the community — I take it — I haven't see that any arrests have been made, but do you still have some sense of — you know, or — I don't know that you have, like, fear, but at least some sense of apprehension because some of his friends are out there?
RUNDLE: Well, no, I don't think so, Greta. We have information about some of the inmates. There's basically two phases to this. It's who helped him or assisted him in anyway escaping from the jail, whether it's the correction officers or other inmates or just completely, you know, a fluke, which we don't think it is. We know he planned that for about two months.
But then it appears that once he got into the community, he had assistance. Someone was giving him money. Someone gave him a change of clothes. He had transportation. He had habitation. So we want to get to those people and really ascertain what their roles were.
It's clear everyone knew he was a fugitive. And I had been in the public, saying anyone who assists this particular escapee is facing a first degree, felony punishable by up to 30 years. So our plan, at this point, is to interview all those that give testimony to the police, will meet with the police, ascertain what evidence we have. And I just want to assure the public that anyone that helped this dangerous fugitive escape and assisted in harboring his escape in the community will be held accountable.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I'm sure they will. I know your work very well, Kathy. That person or persons will be held accountable. Thank you, and congratulations to your community on picking him up.
RUNDLE: Thank you, Greta, and all the best for 2006.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.
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