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Barbecue was suspect's undoing

SOUTHLAKE -- A little, old-fashioned restaurant tucked away in suburban Southlake turned out to be a great place to take down a man suspected of being a notorious serial rapist, officials say.

Police arrested Stanley Vernell Ledbetter Jr. in the parking lot of Feedstore Bar-B-Que on Thursday on suspicion of several sexual crimes and robberies in Dallas and Plano, officials said. The takedown was quick and posed no threat to the public, officials said.

Surveillance video of the surprise arrest shows Ledbetter sinking to the pavement as officers surround him. "This is quite a bit of action for us over here," restaurant co-owner Matt Lafavers said.

Plano police say they had kept Ledbetter, 30, a tax preparer, under surveillance while detectives pieced together their case and waited for an arrest warrant.

They were puzzled when he left his Plano apartment Thursday morning and drove nearly 40 miles to a mom-and-pop barbecue joint none of them had ever heard of.

"It was very odd," Plano officer Rick McDonald said. "They thought something was up, unless it was a really good barbecue place or something."

At the restaurant, no one thought twice when Ledbetter entered around lunchtime wearing a Polo shirt and jeans, Lafavers said. Ledbetter eyed the menu for a few minutes -- the sign of a first-time customer, Lafavers said. Ledbetter ordered a double cheeseburger and french fries to go, Lafavers said.

"He was a big guy, like he worked out," Lafavers said.

The order took about six minutes to cook, and Ledbetter decided to eat in the dining room, Lafavers said.

Meanwhile, officers who had surrounded the building got antsy. An undercover officer walked inside and ordered a meal, Lafavers said.

When Ledbetter was finished, he walked outside toward his black Chevy Avalanche. The eight employees inside the store didn’t hear yelling officers as they surrounded Ledbetter and arrested him; instead, an employee noticed that the entrance to White Chapel Boulevard had been blocked off and that the undercover officer’s food sat untouched.

Ledbetter remained in the Dallas County Jail on Tuesday with bail set at $150,000.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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