Man who claimed to be 'Tarzan' at Santa Ana Zoo could face life in prison

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- John Williams Rodenborn has kept police busy. First he was allegedly found swinging from the trees at the Santa Ana Zoo, then days later he was allegedly caught with a stolen cellphone.

The 37-year-old Huntington Beach man was arraigned on two separate burglary and armed robbery cases at the Santa Ana courthouse Monday afternoon.

On April 2, Rodenborn allegedly walked into a Chevron gas station convenience store in Westminster and asked the clerk for cigarettes. He then pulled out a firearm and demanded money from the clerk. He threatened to shoot the clerk if he didn't comply, according to Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

Rodenborn took the cash and fled the scene, but left behind a used cigarette butt. During the later investigation, Rodenborn was connected to the crime through DNA found on the cigarette butt and surveillance video. He was charged Monday with felony count of second-degree robbery and one felony count of criminal threats, with a sentence enhancement for the personal use of a firearm in connection to the case.

He's is being held on $1 million bail and faces a maximum sentence of 46 years to life in state prison in this case.

The suspect was also charged with felony count of second-degree commercial burglary and one misdemeanor count of aggravated trespass of a dwelling in a separate case.

On Aug. 6, Rodenborn was arrested on suspicion of stealing an Iphone from Dax Gallery in the 2900 block of Randolph Avenue in Costa Mesa. The art gallery's surveillance footage showed Rodenborn entering a side door and taking the iPhone. The victim found her iPhone through a tracking app and contacted the Costa Mesa Police Department.

When officers responded to the location, they found Rodenborn in a flood control channel. He climbed over a fence and hid inside a garage of a Newport Beach home. Authorities said Rodenborn took off his shirt and rubbed blue paint in his hair and face in an attempt to camouflage himself.

When officers entered the garage, Rodenborn fled again - this time climbing on top of garages belonging to a nearby apartment complex. Officers eventually cornered him in a dumpster area, where they took him into custody.

Rodenborn is being held on a $100,000 bail and faces a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison in this case.

The suspect was also taken into custody earlier this month after allegedly climbing the trees at the Santa Ana Zoo and trying to break into the monkey exhibit.

Workers say he was shirtless and covered in mud. He was arrested for possessing and being under the influence of methamphetamine and trespassing.

Rodenborn has two prior strike convictions for residential burglary in 1999 and 2006, and three state prison priors for a 1999 and 2006 residential burglary, and a 2002 vehicle theft. He's scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 18.
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