Woman questioned in Pittsburgh hotel room robbery of Reds pitcher

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Pittsburgh police detectives for nearly 10 hours on Wednesday questioned a woman who said she was tied up and robbed inside the Downtown hotel room of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman while his team played the Pirates at PNC Park.

Detectives interviewed Claudia Manrique, 26, of Silver Spring, Md., until about 8:30 p.m. before releasing her to a man whom they identified as her husband. Police had filed no charges in the case as of midnight.

Officers were called to the pitcher's room in the Omni William Penn hotel about 10:12 p.m. Tuesday to find Ms. Manrique tied up and crying. Guests staying on the same floor alerted hotel security after they heard her screams for help, ventured into the hallway to see what had happened and found her inside the open room, her hands bound by cloth napkins. She was partially clothed, police said, and was taken to UPMC Mercy, where detectives from the city's sex assault unit interviewed her.

Ms. Manrique, who was a guest in Mr. Chapman's room, told them she was inside the hotel room when she answered a knock at her door from a man claiming to be from the hotel's maintenance staff, there to fix a toilet. But when she opened the door, she said, the man entered and started demanding valuables. When she refused to relinquish the items, he tied her up and started ransacking the room, taking jewelry, clothing, a computer, credit cards and other goods, some of them belonging to Mr. Chapman. Police said the incident took place over about 20 minutes and estimated the worth of the loot at about $6,000.

A checkup at the hospital revealed Ms. Manrique was neither injured nor sexually assaulted, and the case late Wednesday was being handled by detectives from the city's Zone 2 station in the Hill District, who offered no glimpses into their conversations with the woman.

Mr. Chapman, a 24-year-old left-handed pitcher, told police that he and Ms. Manrique recently started dating after meeting in the Baltimore area. She told police she is a student at a community college there. She did not speak to reporters as she left the police station.

Mr. Chapman, through the Reds organization, declined to comment, and Reds spokesman Rob Butcher would only say that the team was aware of the robbery and cooperating with authorities.

The William Penn has "stringent" security measures that include foot patrols by guards and surveillance cameras throughout the building, said Bob Page, the hotel's marketing director. Detectives were reviewing footage from those cameras.

Mr. Page said police do not believe the intruder was a hotel employee, but declined to comment further about the specifics of the case. Security, he said, increases when visiting sports teams are staying at the hotel, particularly when teams are going to and from games. Occasionally a team will ask for the presence of an off-duty uniformed city police officer, but Mr. Page did not believe that was the case on Tuesday night.

"You need to be smart. You need to know who is in your posse if you have one," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he tells his players regarding safety when they are on the road. "You need to be aware of the situations you're putting yourself into, the personnel that you're spending time with."

Mr. Chapman, nicknamed the "Cuban Missile," defected from that country in 2009, leaving behind his longtime girlfriend and their newborn baby. He walked out of his hotel while playing in a tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and established residency in Andorra so he could become a free agent rather than enter Major League Baseball's amateur draft. In January 2010, he signed a six-year, $30.25 million contract with the Reds.

Mr. Chapman, who can throw his fastball in excess of 100 mph, made two starts for the Cuban national team during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He has been one of baseball's best relief pitchers this season, striking out 44 batters in 26 innings for the Reds this season. He did not play in Wednesday night's 2-1 loss to the Pirates.

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Staff writers Bill Brink and Liz Navratil contributed. Sadie Gurman can be reached at 412-263-1878 or gurman@post-gazette.com. First Published May 31, 2012 4:00 AM


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