A second suspect is in custody on suspicion of committing a home invasion in Winton last month.
Merced County sheriff's detectives believe 45-year-old Gordon Rafferty is one of three men responsible for the crime, reported between 2 and 3 a.m. Feb. 1 at a residence in the 8300 block of Walnut Avenue.
Another suspect, 41-year-old James Newman, remains in jail. Sheriff's detectives are also seeking a third robber in the case, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.
Rafferty was first taken into custody Feb. 26 after a deputy spotted him walking on Highway 140 near Gurr Road, waving at traffic, trying to hitch a ride.
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During the encounter, the deputy searched Rafferty and found an 8-inch knife in his pocket and two hypodermic needles. He was booked into Merced County Jail on suspicion of possessing a concealed weapon charges.
Detective Dwayne Pavelski was looking into the home invasion and during his investigation, identified Rafferty as a possible suspect.
Investigators began secretly monitoring Rafferty's phone calls to family members outside California. During those conversations, Rafferty spoke about the home invasion and even admitted to being responsible, MacKenzie said.
On March 9, Rafferty was charged on suspicion of committing the home invasion. At the time Rafferty was charged, he was still in jail for allegedly possessing the concealed weapon.
On the morning of the home invasion, detectives believe Rafferty, Newman and a third man entered the residence, tied up the occupants and ransacked the home.
The men used duct tape and plastic ties to secure three male and two female victims before stealing about $4,000 in property and cash, MacKenzie said.
The suspects also stole a 2005 Dodge Ram pickup, which belonged to the victims, investigators say. No one was injured during the robbery.
Although about $1,000 worth of the stolen property was recovered, Newman told investigators he sold some of it. Newman was arrested after he was spotted driving the stolen truck the day of the robbery.
MacKenzie said detectives aren't releasing details about the third suspect, to protect the integrity of the investigation.
Rafferty was booked on three counts of robbery and remains at the jail in lieu of $575,000 bail. Newman, a parolee, is being held without bail.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.