Guest of Reds pitcher questioned for hours in suspicious robbery
June 1, 2012 7:28 AM
By Sadie Gurman Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh detectives questioned a woman for nearly 12 hours about a bizarre robbery in the Downtown hotel room of a Cincinnati Reds pitcher, in part because she changed her story.
Claudia Manrique, 26, of Silver Spring, Md., initially said she was attacked late Tuesday by a stranger posing as a maintenance man at the Omni William Penn who tied her up and made off with valuables belonging to pitcher Aroldis Chapman.
But as interviews with detectives wore on, she told them she had encountered her assailant earlier at a CVS pharmacy, where he stole her wallet and threatened to harm her friend if she did not tell him in which room she and the Cuban ballplayer were staying, according to police reports.
The reports indicate that detectives are skeptical of Ms. Manrique's account, but police had filed no charges in the case as of Thursday night.
Mr. Chapman told police he began dating the Colombian native in April, and she would meet him in other cities where the Reds were playing.
He was at PNC Park when the robbery occurred. He later told detectives that Ms. Manrique had been receiving unwanted phone calls throughout her stay in Pittsburgh. He believed they were from a man in Maryland to whom she owed $9,000 on a $30,000 debt that allowed her to gain entry into the country, police reports say.
Mr. Chapman told police that Ms. Manrique "wasn't acting like herself" when she asked him if he could book her an earlier flight home. He went to the game Tuesday and returned to find his belongings gone.
One thing not taken was a Louis Vuitton bag containing more than $200,000 worth of Mr. Chapman's jewelry. Ms. Manrique said her attacker held her at gunpoint and demanded the bag of jewelry several times, ransacking the room when she refused to relinquish it. But, police reports note, she could not explain how the man knew the bag of jewelry was in the room in the first place.
When detectives confronted her about discrepancies in her story, she began to cry. A polygraph test showed she was not being truthful about the robbery, according to the report.
Ms. Manrique eventually changed her story, saying the robber first approached her at a CVS pharmacy and threatened to harm her friend in Silver Spring if she did not give him her room number. The man showed up a few hours later, and she let him in, fearing for her friend's safety.
Police do not believe the man was employed by the hotel, whose staff have been cooperative in the investigation. Surveillance footage shows a man leaving with a duffel bag.
Hotel guest Jim Flores, who was in town on business with the United Steelworkers, heard her screams for help and found her kneeling in the doorway of her room, her hands bound with cloth napkins.
"I asked her, 'What's going on?' and she just kept screaming," Mr. Flores said Thursday. "She said, 'He just left, he had a gun, he may be coming back.' " Another guest unbound her and tried to calm her while Mr. Flores called hotel security.
"She passed out," he said. "She was frantic. She could barely speak."
Her credit cards were among the stolen goods. Police reports say they were used at locations in East Pittsburgh, Swissvale and Delmont.
While police continued to investigate, details of Ms. Manrique's life in Silver Spring began to emerge. Baltimore County police issued a summons in March charging her with stealing between $1,000 and $10,000 from a male acquaintance. The man, Shahryar Kamouei, told police he was doing some online banking when he walked out of the room and later found that Ms. Manrique had transferred money from his account into her own, Baltimore County state's attorney Scott Shellenberger said. Mr. Kamouei also told police she stole some cash and clothing from him.
Mr. Kamouei said in an interview that the theft happened while the two were in Las Vegas in December. He claimed the two were dating and she worked as a stripper in high-end clubs in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
A roommate and a man whom police identified as her husband escorted her from the Zone 2 police station Wednesday night. Her whereabouts were not known on Thursday.