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Tracking Ruse: Suspect Unknowingly Had Unlimited Funds On Run With AM-Winery Slayings, Bjt

April 22, 1989

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) _ In a fiscal ruse that authorities hoped would help them track Ramon Salcido, police persuaded Wells Fargo Bank to extend unlimited credit to the accused mass killer.

The automatic teller machines effectively were deputized to help catch the man accused of killing his wife, two of his daughters, his mother-in-law and her two daughters, and a winery co-worker. Salcido fled to Mexico, where he was captured and deported back to California late Thursday.

Salcido was reported to have run out of bank funds last week while on a cocaine-and-alcohol binge that friends said preceded the slaughter.

The Sonoma County sheriff’s office arranged with the bank to track Salcido through any transactions he made with his automatic teller (ATM) card and instructed bank tellers that his credit line was wide open, Sheriff Dick Michaelsen said

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Lisa Hoogerwef said the bank gladly cooperated with authorities, adding that Salcido tried to use an automatic teller card at least once at a Wells Fargo branch in San Rafael on Friday at 9:24 a.m., and possibly again later in San Francisco while heading for Mexico.

Investigators said the killings occurred that day between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Salcido also bought some clothes with his bank card at the Ross Dress for Less Store in San Rafael Friday morning.

″The debate was (whether or not) you give him open credit. ... We were worried about the safety of our tellers.″ said Hoogerwef.

″We did not want to do anything to set him off,″ agreed Ron Renfro, the bank’s security manager.

Renfro said as word of the crimes spread, it became more credible that Salcido would not chance going into a bank where he might be recognized and would try to use the ATM to get cash.

Michaelsen said with the bank’s cooperation, the department was able to bypass a court request for permission to tap in to Salcido’s account.

The sheriff said the bank cooperated because they were in ″hot pursuit″ and ″lives were in danger.″

″I am very proud. I think we did an excellent job,″ said Michaelsen. ″It was excellent police work. It (his arrest) was not just a fluke.″

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