Wanted ex-CFLer hiding in plain sight

Cody Ledbetter tosses a football May 15, 1997.  At the time, Ledbetter had just arrived in Winnipeg...

Cody Ledbetter tosses a football May 15, 1997. At the time, Ledbetter had just arrived in Winnipeg for the Blue Bombers’ training camp. Ledbetter is on the run from police. (QMI Agency File Photo)

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

OTTAWA - The regulars at Lorenzo’s Pizzeria didn’t think much of the new patron when he appeared one day in the dead of winter, took a seat at the bar and started chatting about the Grey Cup ring on his finger.

But yesterday, Cody Ledbetter — a former CFL quarterback on the lam from police in Texas — was the hot topic of conversation at the southeast Ottawa sports hangout.

Ledbetter, 36, narrowly escaped arrest after Ottawa police responded to an “altercation” at his home at 850 Canterbury Ave., directly across the street from Lorenzo’s.

Police showed up around 8 a.m. Saturday, but Ledbetter had already fled the scene, likely in the maroon 2003 Dodge 4-door pickup bearing Oklahoma plates that police are now looking for.

Police have said nothing about the altercation that led them to the address, but rumours were swirling Sunday in the commons at Canterbury Square, the apartment complex where Ledbetter made his home while apparently hiding out from U.S. authorities.

Several residents said that a bleeding woman was found staggering through the apartment building hallway early Saturday morning, and while Ottawa police would not confirm the detail, they said the partner assault unit was called in to investigate.

Other residents recognized Ledbetter’s face from a photo circulated by police and published in Saturday’s Ottawa Sun.

If he was in hiding, they said, it sure didn’t seem like it.

He used his real name, talked freely about his career in the CFL, even parked his pickup truck with the distinctive Oklahoma plates in the outdoor lot behind the building.

According to a report published nearly a month ago in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas police had received a Crime Stoppers tip that Ledbetter was in Ottawa and they were actively seeking him after he failed to report to his probation officer in January.

At Lorenzo’s, patrons said Ledbetter had been a regular customer since making his first appearance there about six months ago. He would show off his Grey Cup ring, which he won in 1999 as a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, playing the role of backup quarterback.

He would chat up patrons about his favourite topic and his beloved Texas Longhorns. According to patrons, he worked various freelance construction jobs to pay the bills.

He would come in for dinner about once a week with a woman and an 11-month-old girl in tow, who patrons assumed was his wife and daughter.

“He was very attentive to his daughter, I remember that,” said one man.

Police would not comment on whether there was a child involved, but did say police were only seeking Ledbetter.

There are no current Amber Alerts for missing children.


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