Details About Berkeley Hills Killing Emerge Slowly--New BPD Release Lacks Name of Victim

Monday February 20, 2012 - 06:55:00 PM

Berkeley Police continue to withhold the name of the man who was killed by a trespasser outside his home in the Berkeley Hills on Saturday night. However, more details about the story have emerged in a variety of Bay Area publications. Some of these have been confirmed in a Saturday evening press release from the Berkeley Police.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle identifies the owner of the home where the crime took place and the probable victim as Peter Cukor, 67, a consultant with a logistics business. 

A report in the Alameda Patch said that the suspect who is in custody, Daniel Jordan DeWitt of Alameda, was a 2007 graduate of Alameda High School and a member of a prominent Alameda family. According to the Alameda Patch, his late grandfather, Al DeWitt, was the first African-American to serve on Alameda's City Council. 

His mother, Candy DeWitt, was quoted in the Chronicle as saying that her son had a history of mental illness, and details about what occurred the night of the killing seem consistent with this explanation if her son was indeed the assailant. The Chronicle story, based on information from unidentified sources, said the intruder hit the victim with a potted plant, and Jordan DeWitt, the suspect, was apprehended within a block of the Cukor home, apparently having made little attempt to flee. 

Various reports indicate that the reason the Berkeley police were slow to respond is that they were monitoring Occupy Oakland's Saturday night march into Berkeley. The latest BPD press release describes the sequence of events thus: 


"BPD received a report of a suspicious person possibly trespassing. The caller calmly reported an encounter with a strange person on his property, and asked for an officer to respond. This call for service was queued for dispatch.  

"At that time, available Patrol teams were being reconfigured in order to monitor a protest which was to come into Berkeley from Oakland in the next hour. Only criminal, in-progress emergency calls were to be dispatched, due to the reduction in officers available to handle calls for service. 

"BPD subsequently received a call of an attack in progress on Park Gate Rd. Officers were immediately dispatched to that call." 


However, Planet reporter Ted Friedman, one of the few who covered the march, said that few City of Berkeley Police were visible at the Occupy protest. The BPD press release does not offer a timetable for the Saturday night events surrounding the murder, including the response times.