A man who is accused of victimizing women spanning the country and bilking them out of thousands of dollars was, as of Friday, in Warsaw where he allegedly struck again.
Brooke Bays called police Friday evening saying Christopher Benjamin Clapp, 30, was renting a room from her and stole her credit and debit cards. When Bays confronted Clapp Friday, he denied taking the cards but Bays said $500 was withdrawn from her bank account. She also said Clapp left her residence with only the clothes he was wearing and has not been seen or heard from since.
“I called every motel in Warsaw that takes cash and found him at the Days Inn,” Bays said, noting he refused to answer the phone when the front desk connected her call to his room. When Bays notified police of his whereabouts that same night, she said the front desk clerk would not tell them what room Clapp was staying in. “This was before we knew he was wanted on warrants,” added Bays.
Chris Strommen, a deputy with the U.S. Marshal in Montana, confirmed to StaceyPageOnline.com that Clapp is also known to them, but would only say Clapp “is not wanted on federal charges.” Strommen said he was not able to provide any additional information due to the local investigation.
Twilah Azure of Missoula, Mont., however, dated Clapp from September to Halloween 2012 and said he is a wanted man in Montana. Then homeless and living mostly out of her vehicle, Azure met Clapp at a motel where they both stayed. “He was in the room next to me and we would sit outside and smoke and talk,” she said. “He told me he was an attorney and staying there because he and his wife got divorced.”
Azure was also involved in a lawsuit and said Clapp helped her complete paperwork for that. “He acted like he knew what he was doing,” she told StaceyPageOnline.com.
Azure won a settlement of $8,500, but two days later, while she and Clapp were at the mall, Azure said Clapp went to the restroom and never returned. Minutes later, she noticed her Yukon and her money missing.
Missoula authorities were able to use the Yukon’s GPS to track it to Spokane, Wash., where Clapp was found in a casino. Azure went to him and stayed with him for the weekend, refusing to let him out of her sight. “He said he needed the money for his daughter’s kidney transplant, which I knew was a lie,” said Azure. “But he said he would give me back the money so I waited.”
According to Azure, Clapp is good a counting cards and often plays blackjack at the casinos. “That night he was up $20,000, but then he lost it all.”
On Nov. 5, Azure said felony charges of theft and auto theft were filed against Clapp and a warrant was issued, but he had already left. She said Clapp was also still on probation from Ohio where he was sentenced last year to one year in prison for aggravated assault against another woman.
His victim in Ohio told StaceyPageOnline.com that she also rented a room to Clapp and began to realize that she and her family were also being used. Allowing us to only use her last name of Carver, the woman said she, like his other alleged victims, “They were just like me, trying to help out a friend.”
Carver said Clapp stole $1,500 from her father after he came to stay with them. “He came to stay last July after giving me a sob story that he wanted to start over and needed a place to stay. He was in a homeless shelter until then (and) had just gotten out of prison not too long before.
“Somehow he convinced me that he could go to Indiana and I needed to help him get there.” Carver added, “One thing about Chris, he doesn’t like to be told no or that he’s wrong.”
According to Carver, Clapp is currently wanted on a warrant out of Ohio for non-support of a dependent and for violating probation. She added, “He is a very violent man and a great manipulator.”
Carver believes Clapp is headed to either Colorado or Washington.
Clapp is known in the Warsaw area to frequent bars, especially where there is karaoke. According to Bays and Azure, he also likes to gamble and go to casinos. He may also go by the names Chris Clark, Chris Cerelli or may use his middle name, Ben or Benjamin.
Bays said Clapp is easy to identify due to a tick. “He stretches his jaw and/or jerks his chin and/or looks up with his eyes in a sort of rolling motion,” she explained. “He does this more when nervous, guilty or threatened.” She also said he may be armed and should be considered dangerous.
She identifies Clapp as approximately 6′ 2″ with black hair and a goatee. He also has a dragon tattoo on his left shoulder that is not colored in.
The night Clapp fled the Bays home, he was wearing blue jeans and a pastel colored plaid button up shirt. He also had a black leather coat and was wearing brown slip on shoes. “He left everything else here, including his backpack,” Bays said, noting she went through it trying to locate anything that may indicate where he was headed.
“He liked to write and I found where he wrote ‘cab company/how much?’ and ‘airfare.’ He talked about going to Colorado so maybe that’s where he’s headed.” Bays said Clapp also can work as a carpet cleaner and may make some money doing that. “He also says he went to school to be a paralegal but (family members) I’ve spoke with laugh and say they’re not even sure he finished high school. From what I’ve found, he has had (as many as 70) women he’s done this too.”
Warsaw Police Det. Brad Kellar is investigating Bays case and said additional information is not yet available.
Clapp does not have a vehicle so is either relying on public transportation or friends for travel. Bays said he may be staying in the Columbia City area, or he may have fled the state entirely.
If you have seen Clapp or have information on his whereabouts, call local authorities.