Manorville natives caught in crossfire of national news
By Jodi Weigand
Published: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 8:05 p.m.
As a Ford City High School senior, Jim Reynolds' favorite quote was, “Let's go home and forget this day.”
The quip, immortalized in the school's 1965 yearbook, is uncannily ironic in light of the ordeal he and his wife, Karen, endured this week at their rental cabin-style condo in the ski resort community of Big Bear Lake, Calif.
The Manorville, natives say triple murderer Christopher Dorner tied them up inside the cabin on Tuesday afternoon.
The couple encountered the fugitive when they entered the cabin to clean it. They told police they think he had been staying there since Feb. 8.
The incident happened during a manhunt for Dorner, a fired Los Angeles police officer, who later was confirmed to have died inside a different cabin, which caught fire with him still inside.
Authorities accused Dorner with the revenge killings of a former Los Angeles police captain's daughter and her finance on Feb. 6, and killing a sheriff's deputy and wounding another during the manhunt.
Larry Valasek, of Ford City, who graduated with Jim Reynolds, said he was shocked to see his high school friend on television.
“I was up the other night and I saw Jim's picture. … I had to look twice. And then when I saw Big Bear Mountain, I knew it was him right away,” said Valasek, who said he hasn't talked with Reynolds for many years.
The couple moved from this area about a dozen years ago, friends said. Jim Reynolds told the Associated Press that he and his wife have owned the condo for 12 years.
“I'm glad they're both safe,” Valasek said. “That was a harrowing ordeal for them. I mean this guy snapped. He spared their lives.”
Jim, 66, and Karen Reynolds, 56, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The couple held a press conference the day after the Feb. 12 incident to clarify it was they, and not two house cleaners, as widely reported, who were held by Dorner.
They said Dorner had a gun and told them to “stay calm.”
Karen Reynolds said she screamed and tried to run outside, but Dorner grabbed her and took her and her husband into a bedroom where he ordered them to lie down.
He bound their arms and legs with plastic ties, gagged them with washcloths and used cords to tie pillowcases over their heads.
“He said, ‘I don't have a problem with you, so I'm not going to hurt you,'” Jim Reynolds said during the press conference. “I didn't believe him. I thought he was going to kill us.”
After about 15 minutes, Dorner left the cabin and drove away in the couple's vehicle. Karen Reynolds was able to get her feet free, reach a phone and call 911.
Dorner later carjacked a man, shot at game wardens and killed a deputy in a shootout at the cabin where he was later found dead.
Jim Boarts, of Manorville, who attended Ford City High with Jim Reynolds, said when he first heard that Dorner was believed to be in Big Bear, “my mind raced to (Jim) right away.”
“I'm so grateful that nothing really serious happened to them,” he said. “It's a very strange situation the way it all happened.”
Boarts lives on Try Street not far from where Reynolds lived as a child. The house, on the corner of Try and Water streets, is no longer standing.
“It's a small world sometimes,” he said.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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