LIHUE — Richard Leibman, also known as the “Jesus Bandit,” was found sleeping in the yard of a Princeville home on Thursday morning and arrested without incident.
Leibman had been wanted on three $50,000 bench warrants for revocation or modification of probation since October and had been spotted several times by residents of the neighborhood on Aloalii Drive over the past two weeks.
Paula Pezzato, who made the call to the Kauai Police Department, told TGI that a man who works as a gardener for a number of Aloalii Drive residents found Leibman at about 10:15 a.m.
The gardener had finished his work at her home and was on his way to another job when he noticed a man sleeping on the ground under the eves of a nearby house, Pezzato said.
The gardener, a long-time Kauai resident, recognized Leibman almost immediately, Pezzato said. She said the landscaper came back to her home, described the situation and asked that she call police.
Pezzato went back inside and made the call. About 10 minutes later, two police cars drove down the street and parked their cars to cut off access in and out of the Aloalii Drive cul-de-sac.
“That’s right when it started pouring rain,” Pezzato said.
Her husband, Dennis Pezzato, said the police officers split up and circled the house until they found Leibman — apparently still sound asleep — on the side of the house. A few minutes later, police emerged from the yard with Leibman walking quietly between them, his hands restrained behind his back.
Leibman was shirtless but wore camouflage shorts and a big sheet wrapped around his waist, according to Pezzato, who said he appeared “thin, tan and a bit disheveled.
The rain — Pezzato described it as “a ridiculous squall”— still hadn’t let up, and the cops were soaked.
“One of them didn’t even have a jacket, but he really didn’t seem to mind,” Pezzato said. “They just went about their business, quietly and professionally, the way they do day in and day out.”
A county news release said Leibman was taken into custody and is being held at the Kauai Police Department cellblock in Lihue.
“We wish to thank the public for remaining vigilant in our search for Richard Leibman,” KPD Acting Chief Michael Contrades said in a statement Thursday. “We appreciate the efforts of our officers, the community, and all involved in catching Leibman in hopes he will be held accountable for his crimes.”
Known to North Shore residents as the “Jesus Bandit” because he was often been seen sporting a long beard and wearing a robe, Leibman has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and a personality disorder.
He has a criminal history including unlawful entering, burglary, theft, resisting arrest, escape and assault against a law enforcement officer.
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.