Scarber family defended by friends, neighbors, and bail bondsman

February 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The family wrapped up in a rape case, an international manhunt, and an internal investigation into a CHP assistant chief are held in high esteem by many who knew them before the trouble started.

As Action News first reported, Fresno County sheriff's detectives retrieved Spencer Scarber from Mexico over the weekend. They also arrested his parents and his sister for their alleged roles in helping Spencer skip the country just before a jury found him guilty of rape.

The Scarbers haven't had much to say since four family members were booked into jail in one day. But the family still has plenty of defenders -- despite the rape case against their son and accusations they helped him flee to Mexico rather than face a life sentence.

Spencer Scarber came back to Fresno a changed man -- with dyed hair and a goatee reminiscent of Scott Peterson's changed look when he was arrested ten years ago for his wife's murder. But the 20-year-old described by neighbors as fairly quiet still had few words for an Action News reporter when he returned Saturday.

"Do you have anything to say?" the reporter asked.

"Not much," Scarber responded.

Mexican immigration officials arrested Scarber in Acapulco two months after he disappeared on the day he was supposed to testify in his own rape case.

Fresno County detectives believe Spencer's mother and sister sneaked him across the border. They say his father, Kyle -- an assistant chief with the California Highway Patrol -- misled investigators with a bogus missing persons report -- even planting blood on the family's Squaw Valley driveway. But neighbors and friends say the Scarbers are a good family facing heavy scrutiny they don't deserve.

"My heart goes out to Spencer," said a Scarner family friend who wanted to be identified simply as Debe. "My heart goes out to Gail. My heart goes out to Kyle. They're lovely people and would do anything for anyone."

An American flag hangs in the Scarber's driveway on president's day as a tribute to the country Kyle Scarber served as a Marine before his lengthy service with the CHP. His photo still hangs from the wall at the agency's office in northwest Fresno, but the CHP commissioner in Sacramento says an internal affairs investigation will soon result in appropriate action.

Kyle Scarber bailed out of jail Sunday. His wife and step-daughter followed hours later.

"Leave us alone and quit making it a story if it's not there," Gail Scarber told an Action News reporter.

The bondsman was Barry Pearlstein -- the same man who stood to lose $855,000 because a judge determined Spencer skipped bail. But when they sat in the same seats as an Action News reporter did Monday, Pearlstein says he saw not villains, but emotional parents about to lose their only son to a life sentence.

"They are very genuine people," he said. "I think they are like anybody else suffering from a loss."

Action News also talked to the rape victim's family Monday. All they had to say is that they're relieved Spencer was caught.

Spencer Scarber can't bail out of jail, but he may appear in court later this week.


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