Prosecutor: Berrien shooter raped, drugged captive teen

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

An inmate who shot and killed two Berrien County Courthouse bailiffs Monday was being prosecuted for allegedly kidnapping a 17-year-old girl, feeding her methamphetamine, raping her and keeping her in a shed, officials said Wednesday.

The details emerged two days after Larry Darnell Gordon, 44, died during a Berrien County courthouse rampage that left the two bailiffs, Joseph Zangaro, 61, and Ron Kienzle, 63, dead.

Gordon faced up to life in prison in the kidnapping case, county Prosecutor Michael Sepic said Wednesday while detailing the events that lead up to the shooting.

The back story dates to late January, when Gordon allegedly was involved in a domestic violence incident, the prosecutor said.

A warrant was issued and Coloma Township police officers launched a search for Gordon, who faced up to 93 days in jail on a misdemeanor charge.

After several failed searches, officers arrived at Gordon’s home on Tannery Road in Coloma Township on April 20.

Gordon lived in the home with his ex-wife.

Officers spotted a light on in a shed. Inside, they found Gordon, the prosecutor said.

Gordon barricaded himself inside the shed before escaping through a back door, Sepic said. Officers used a tracking dog to catch up with Gordon, who was found hiding under a porch several blocks away.

After catching Gordon, officers searched the shed again. Inside, they found the 17-year-old, the prosecutor said.

She had been there for two weeks, held against her will by Gordon.

Gordon gave her methamphetamine in exchange for sex, the prosecutor said, and assaulted the woman with weapons and strangled her.

“He also video recorded the sexual activity,” Sepic said.

The disclosure Wednesday disgusted neighbor Carl Neuendorf, who can see the yellow shed from his home two doors away. The shed is next to a trampoline, a jungle gym and green slide.

“Man, that’s horrible,” said Neuendorf, 82. “If I had known about that, I would have called the cops. It’s mind-boggling.”

Neuendorf did not socialize with Gordon.

“He borrowed a couple tables once, they were having a yard sale, but we really didn’t interface that much,” Neuendorf said.

As a result of the developments, Gordon was no longer facing a misdemeanor and a short jail stint.

Instead, he was hit with felonies, including kidnapping, producing sexually abusive material involving a child and five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He faced up to life in prison.

Gordon was in court Monday because prosecutors sought to dismiss the misdemeanor charge in light of the more serious kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct charges.

The charges were the latest in a life of crime for Gordon. He was convicted three times in federal court for charges that included possessing pipe bombs.

After his arrest, investigators learned of an alleged incident involving similar conduct between Gordon and a 16-year-old in Berrien County in 2006, the prosecutor said. Gordon had not been charged with a crime relating to the alleged incident involving the 16-year-old.

As a handcuffed Gordon was being escorted out of the courtroom Monday, he managed to swipe a gun from a sheriff’s deputy and shot and killed Zangaro and Kienzle. The deputy and a woman in a hallway also were injured.

(313) 222-2486

Twitter: @robertsnellnews