Though she was instrumental in cracking the 2014 case of the serial attacker in North Park and Normal Heights, Carrie Spillane didn't feel right about accepting the $10,000 reward. So she asked the city to use the money to install streetlights on the Normal Heights street where she lives.
In 2014, at least seven women walking alone in North Park and Normal Heights were attacked by Daniel Drake, who sneaked up on them and hit them in the head, then threw them to the ground and assaulted them. Many of the victims could not describe the attacker. But after the last assault, police found an image of the attacker caught by a security camera, and they went public with the image.
By then, cops were working long hours and long shifts, said Carrie's husband Scott Spillane, an officer with the SDPD. "We were working ten- to twelve-hour shifts seven and eight days straight," he recalled. "It was a high priority to catch this criminal.
The Spillanes live in the neighborhood — one assault occurred less than a block from their home.
"As a woman, well, we all felt scared," Carrie said.
Scott came home with that image on his iPad and told his wife that everyone was struggling to identify the logo on the front of the shirt. It looked familiar to her.
"I stared at it for four hours and suddenly I knew where I'd seen it — it was the Brazen BBQ logo," she said. "I woke Scott up and told him, and he called it in."
Two hours later, Scott said he received a text that read "SIC": suspect in custody. It turned out that only Brazen BBQ employees had the shirts, which made Drake easy to identify and arrest. He has since been convicted of the assaults and sentenced to 57 years in prison.
By the time Carrie Spillane ID'ed the shirt that led to the arrest, Crime Stoppers and the Neighborhood Market Association had put up a $10,000 reward. But Carrie said she felt bad about it — it looked like cheating to collect the reward since her husband is a cop. She thought about one of the community meetings she went to while Drake was still attacking women, where she asked councilman Todd Gloria if they could get more streetlights. Gloria told her that the lights cost about $100,000 apiece, plus someone would have to pay the electricity.
"Streetlights prevent crime," she said. "I asked the city to use the money for streetlights for our block.
The Spillanes stayed silent until this month, after the city moved their street to the top of the list for new streetlights. They will be installed later this year.
"He's convicted now, so we felt it was safe to come out." She said they wanted to make sure not to compromise the prosecutor's court case.
Scott, a former Marine who is on leave from the department while he battles an aggressive bone cancer, said he and Carrie were glad to be able to help stop Drake. "We do care, cops do care," he said. "I live in the neighborhood, Carrie and I have been here a long time and we love it here."