AWOL Colorado Marine was arranging surrender before arrest
Rocky Mountain News
Lance Hering contacted a military lawyer to arrange his surrender two weeks before the AWOL Marine was arrested in Washington as he boarded a private plane with his dad, according to police reports released Friday.
Together, Hering and the lawyer worked out a plan to have Hering evaluated by a forensic psychologist in Virginia who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder, before he was to turn himself in at Camp Pendleton in California.
In the process, the lawyer put Hering in contact with his father, Lloyd, 60, who offered to fly to Washington to help his son surrender, according to the transcript of an interview between Lance Hering and a Port Angeles police detective.
“He told me that he (Lloyd) was gonna fly out here and then he’d give me a call when he got here and I’d go meet him,” Lance Hering said in the interview. “You know, I spent two years not talking to anyone that I knew and not telling anyone where I was.”
The interview was conducted the day father and son were arrested at an airport in Port Angeles.
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Lance Hering, who attended Fairview High School, served in Iraq and was on leave, visiting his parents in Boulder in the late summer of 2006, when he vanished. A friend reported him missing Aug. 30, 2006, telling authorities he was injured in a rock-climbing fall. It sparked a huge search-and-rescue operation in Eldorado Canyon State Park before investigators concluded Hering had staged his own disappearance.
Hering was in hiding for 26 months. The police interview does not discuss where Hering was during those months or how he had spent the time.
But Hering did say in the interview he had finally decided he wanted “to go take care of this.”
“I want to see my family again,” Hering told Port Angeles police.
Hering contacted James Culp, a military lawyer, and Culp helped put him in touch with his dad.
Hering told police he first contacted his dad by e-mail after Culp gave him the e-mail address, and his dad “offered to help by flying me out to see the psychologist for the appointment.”
That appointment had been scheduled for Friday.
Lance Hering said he purchased a Tracphone about a week before the Nov. 16 arrest to talk to Culp and that he also talked to his father.
“Hey, I’m at this airport,” Lance Hering said his father told him on the phone after landing in Port Angeles. “We can go make your appointment to see the psychologist if we get goin’.”
Father and son had only seen each other “like a few minutes” when they saw police cars roll up.
“It was all happening quicker than expected,” Lance Hering told police.
“Fortunate time for us, really, because even though it’s not what I expected, I’ve been preparing and I’ve been in the mind-set of like, ‘OK, I’m ready to go address this.’ “
Lance Hering said that even a year ago, he likely would have run if he saw an officer approaching.
The plan was to fly to Virginia for the evaluation then to Texas to meet with Culp and then to Camp Pendleton. Hering said his lawyer had already been in contact with officials at Camp Pendleton.
“There are records of people knowing that I’m in the process of turning myself in, and that I was, that this is part of it,” Hering said.
Hering posted $5,000 bail Thursday, and the Marine Corps was to take custody of him on a federal charge of deserting.
In the interview, Hering said the only reason his dad became involved was to help him surrender.
Hering said he wasn’t sure what his dad’s reaction would be when he first reached out for help.
“I was pretty far away from him,” Hering told police. “I got lucky ’cause he supported me doing this, you know.”
“I mean, he basically said, ‘I support you however because you’re my son and I love you, but I think it would be really cool if you would turn yourself in, you know. Or think about that.’ “
“And then once I said, you know, pretty quickly after I contacted him around that time, I was like, ‘OK, I’m ready to do this,’ and that’s when he offered to, like come personally help.”