LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Three parties will split a $1 million reward that was offered during the hunt for ex-LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner, with the bulk of the money going to a couple who were tied up in their Big Bear cabin by the fugitive, the Los Angeles Police Department announced today.
The division of money was recommended by a panel of retired judges who reviewed claims submitted by 12 parties looking to get a share of the money.
The first installment of the reward money is expected to be given out on Friday.
James and Karen Reynolds, who own a cabin in Big Bear Lake and were tied up by Dorner when they found him inside, will receive 80 percent of the reward. The panel determined that if the couple had not escaped their restraints and notified police, Dorner would have evaded police.
Instead, their tip prompted a chase that led to another cabin, where Dorner barricaded himself inside and engaged in a gun battle with San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies — killing one before shooting himself.
The cabin eventually burst into flames, and Dorner’s remains were found inside.
Daniel McGowan, a ski resort employee who spotted Dorner’s burning truck by the side of a remote Big Bear Lake road, shifting the focus of the Dorner manhunt to San Bernardino County, will receive 15 percent of the reward.
The judges concluded that his tip was valuable because the truck was in a remote location, where it could have gone undetected for days. His share of the reward is less than the Reynolds’ because his tip did not directly lead to Dorner, the panel decided.
Lee McDaniel, a Corona tow truck driver who spotted Dorner at an am/pm gas station during the manhunt, will receive 5 percent of the reward. The panel determined that McDaniel’s information allowed police to determine that Dorner was still in Southern California instead of México, Utah or Las Vegas.
The panel decided that even though Dorner died from what appeared to be an self-inflicted gunshot, it was sufficient that the three parties’ tips led directly or indirectly to law enforcement surrounding the Big Bear cabin in which he ultimately died.
Richard Heltebrake, whose pickup truck was hijacked by Dorner after the fugitive fled from the Reynolds’ cabin, was not awarded any reward money. The panel noted that police were already pursuing Dorner when the hijacking occurred.