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Merrimack Valley

January 31, 2013

Fugitive arrested in case of intimidation via Instagram website

LAWRENCE — The last of three men wanted for allegedly intimidating recent murder witnesses using the photo-sharing website Instagram was captured yesterday morning.

Rafael Rodriguez, 22, of 28 Juniper St., #1, Lawrence was arrested by the state police violent fugitive task force after spending 21/2 weeks at large, police said.

Lawrence police last week issued a public alert for Rodriguez, with the belief he was still living in the city and possibly being helped and hidden from police by others.

Rodriguez is the third suspect in a witness intimidation scheme at the recent murder trial of Jose Ruiz in Lawrence Superior Court. Jose Davila, 25, of 13 Cedar St., and Ronney Moreno, 30, of 337/339 South Broadway, were already arrested and charged with witness intimidation.

Police said they previously seized a revolver, “substantial amount of ammunition,” computers and storage drivers from Rodriguez’s Juniper Street apartment. Rodriguez had a very strong alliance to Ruiz, police said.

Police said the three men posted pictures of two witnesses in the murder trial of Ruiz, who was convicted of second-degree murder on Jan. 14 and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the 2009 killing of Rolando Fuentes, 33, of Methuen.

Ruiz was also convicted of carrying a firearm without a license and sentenced to four to five years in prison, to be served concurrently.

At least two pictures of key murder trial witnesses were posted on Instagram, with text calling them snitches. One witness was in fear for his life and had heard from friends that retribution was being planned, according to court papers.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.

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