Buffalo police took a red-haired, clean-shaven Anthony J. Medina into custody this morning and planned to charge him in connection with the stabbing deaths Monday of his wife and her friend.
Medina, who had dyed his black hair and shaved his mustache, was expected to be charged with two counts of first-degree murder, Capt. Joseph Riga of the Homicide Bureau said.
Starting with an anonymous phone call from a pay phone at 7:58 a.m. today, police closed in on Medina at various spots around Hertel Avenue before capturing him at Herkimer Street and Auchinvole Avenue at 9:15 a.m.
Armed with a physical description and the reports that Medina could be in the area, Northwest District Officers Kim Eisenried and Jaclyn Santa Maria spotted him from behind and arrested him without further incident.
"To get a guy with his track record of violence off the streets is a relief for us in the Detective Division and for the residents of the City of Buffalo," said Inspector Philip A. Ramunno, who heads that division.
Wednesday, authorities had said that Medina nearly knifed his first wife to death in 1984.
In the current case, Medina was sought for questioning in the fatal stabbing of his wife, Joanne Medina, 35, and Stephen Haines, 35, her friend, who was protecting her. Medina went into hiding after their bodies were found at her Riverside home at about noon Monday.
Police received three phone calls today from concerned citizens who thought they had spotted Medina.
The first came from a pay phone on Hertel,
the second from a former fellow employee at Tops Market on Delaware Avenue in North Buffalo and the third from a Hertel Avenue resident.
"Anthony Medina has positively been seen this morning," a police dispatcher said at about 8:45, after Medina had been spotted at the Hertel Avenue address.
Subsequent reports had Medina -- with his hair dyed red and his mustache shaved -- walking toward Military Road. Later reports suggested he may have gotten into a gray van on Hertel Avenue.
Ramunno praised the citizens who helped police.
"Obviously, without their help, we never would have gotten him as quickly," he said.
Authorities Wednesday provided some details of Medina's assault on his first wife in 1984.
Medina fled Buffalo after the May 1984 stabbing of Patricia Medina, his wife at the time, but was captured a month later in Altoona, Pa. The mother of a woman he was staying with tipped off police.
He then served most of a 12-year prison sentence on the first-degree assault conviction involving his previous wife, authorities said.
He was conditionally released in 1994 but violated parole in July 1997 and was sent back to state prison. He was released again two months later, said prison officials.
Before the assault conviction, Medina had served time for robbery and was paroled in 1983.
Haines, an Arcade resident who police said was a friend of Joanne Medina's family, was trying to help her because she feared her estranged husband, authorities said.
Haines had gone to Mrs. Medina's Crowley Avenue home to protect her after Medina allegedly beat her last weekend.
"They were not romantically involved," a police investigator said of Haines and Mrs. Medina. "Haines appears to be an innocent victim who was trying to protect her because Medina beat her up over the weekend."
Mrs. Medina's death was witnessed by her 10-year-old son.