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Big Island couple's arrest reads like thriller


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POSTED: Monday, September 29, 2008

Big Island resident Dakotah Yarborough showed up last month at his former stepmother's house, in Bend, Ore., and told her he needed a place to stay.

It had been 27 years since Yarborough had lived with his former stepmother, said her son Joe Durkee. Yarborough told her he was in the process of divorcing his wife, Connie, who he said was still living on the Big Island.

"She trusted him," Durkee said.

Durkee said Yarborough, a former private investigator, persuaded the woman to change the combination on her safe.

Police said Yarborough then stole about $2 million in silver, gold, precious coins and jewelry and was about to bury some of it on nearby national forest land when he was arrested.

The woman, whose name was not released, began collecting gold and silver "in the event the stock market crashed," her son said. The other items were jewelry that had been passed down through the family, he said.

Yarborough was scheduled to appear in court today in Oregon to answer charges of burglary, theft and firearms violations after a machine gun and silencer were found in a search.

His wife, Connie, a suspected accomplice, is in the San Mateo County Women's Jail in California awaiting extradition to Oregon. Unbeknownst to the family, Connie Yarborough was staying in Bend at another house when her husband said she was on the Big Island, said Durkee. She was arrested Wednesday in Redwood City, Calif.

A month earlier, Dakotah Yarborough showed up at Durkee's 40th birthday party in Portland - the first time he had seen his former stepbrother since childhood. Durkee and his brother invited Yarborough to meet them at the Burning Man Festival, about an eight-hour drive from Oregon, in the first weekend in September.

Yarborough showed up, but only for a few hours.

Durkee now thinks it might have been an attempt to establish an alibi. Police said the theft from the safe apparently happened that weekend.

Yarborough quickly became the prime suspect and Bend police called Big Island police for help in the investigation.

Bend police put Yarborough under surveillance, hoping he would lead them to the stolen property, Durkee said.

About two weeks ago, Yarborough drove through national forest land near Bend, then bought a shovel, buckets and rubber gloves at a Home Depot.

On Sept. 19, police saw Yarborough drive to a house and noticed that the car was heavily weighed down when he left.

Police used a plane and helicopter to trail him, Durkee said.

Yarborough apparently suspected he might be followed and changed clothes and cars as he drove around.

Durkee said police told him that an undercover detective from another jurisdiction was staked out on a separate case at a Hampton Inn across the street from a mall where the weighed-down rental car was parked.

Yarborough walked into the hotel, apparently suspecting the detective was watching him, and began talking to the detective.

When Yarborough walked away, the detective called Bend police and confirmed that Yarborough was suspected in the $2 million theft.

Yarborough approached the detective again with his hand behind his back. At that point, the detective, not sure if Yarborough was armed, pulled out his gun and arrested him, Durkee said.

Police later seized 1,200 pounds of apparently stolen silver bars from Yarborough's rented car. They suspect he was going to bury it in the forest.

Though the silver has been recovered, the family still is missing some gold and jewelry.

On the Big Island, attorney Lawrence Cohn represented Connie Yarborough in a successful lawsuit against the president of the Fairway Terrace Apartment Association. Cohn said the couple met and married in Oregon and lived in Los Angeles. Shortly after the couple arrived on the Big Island about four years ago, Dakotah got a job at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel, but was fired.

Dakotah then got a job as a resident manager of the Waikoloa apartment complex where Connie worked part time in 2005.

Dakotah Yarborough was on workers' compensation after a fall on the property, Cohn said, and the couple apparently broke up after his injury.

Even though Connie Yarborough won a $150,000 judgment in her lawsuit this year, she has yet to collect, Cohn said.

Court documents show Connie Yarborough had money problems and was sued at least twice for nonpayment of rent and has judgments against her.