The mystery of the woman in the closet

A West Covina woman found dead in a closet has presented a vexing mystery to investigators.

How did Susan Molina, 44, die?

The Los Angeles Department of Coroner says blunt force trauma, but has deferred a finding until it has a complete toxicology report.

West Covina homicide investigators have taken the case, but released little information.

Those investigators told several witnesses they were looking for a mystery woman and a car in connection with the case. We’re tracking down as much as we can…

If you have any ideas, share ’em.


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Barnes shot seven times in the back

Edi Faal, the attorney representing the family of Leroy Barnes, said he learned at a community meeting this morning that Barnes was shot seven times in the back by officers.

We are working to verify this information. Obviously the coroner’s report will contain much of the needed proof.

Meanwhile, Pasadena police Chief Melekian is still scheduling a 2:30 p.m. meeting with the media to release the findings of his department’s investigation into Barnes’ shooting.

Melekian said the Office of Independent Review, which handles similar inquiries for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, will conduct its own investigation.

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Brothers suspected in Covina attack

Something about this case struck a nerve in Covina. I’ve had tons of phone calls about the neighborhood, which is an apparently drug and gang infested portion of Covina that gets little in the way of daily police attention.

Cops first described the victim Ocie May as a transient, but his family, residents of Covina, insisted that Ocie was anything but a transient.

Witnesses said they called and offered police information after the slaying but were never contacted by detectives.

The suspects’ sister insists her brothers are innocent and have been set up.

Here’s the story:

COVINA – A pair of brothers have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man in a dark alley, authorities said Monday.

Arrested on suspicion of murder were Arnett and Wakeem Ghoston, police said.

Killed was Ocie Daniel May, 26, a Covina resident.

Arnett was being held in lieu of $1 million, according to Los Angeles County jail records. Joaquin had not been booked as of 7:30 p.m. Monday.

“We’ve got the two in custody,” Covina police Sgt. Rick Walczak said.

The arrest of two men in connection with the shooting matches a description provided by a witness to the shooting Monday.

May, 26, was slain in an alleyway in the 600 block of East Ruddock Street. Police said the killing followed an altercation that occurred about 8 p.m. Thursday.

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A meeting with Melekian

Pasadena police Chief Barney Melekian met over lunch Monday with me and Pasadena Star-News City Editor Hector Gonzalez.

The primary purpose of the meeting was a wide-ranging discussion of the officer involved shooting that led to the death of Leroy Barnes in Pasadena in February.

Melekian said his department’s investigation had concluded the shotting was justified. He also said that the facts of the case in some way explain the two statements issued in the immediate aftermath of Barnes’ death.

The Chief also said he regretted putting together a statement so early. But explained it was his way of compensating for taking 14 hours to release a statement in the wake of the last fatal Pasadena OIS.

“Fourteen hours was too long,” he admitted. “Next time I’ll find that golden window of opportunity between 90 minutes and 14 hours.”

Melekian also lamented the decline of newspapers in America. And likened the plight of journalists and newspapers to the status of police departments and police officers 20 years ago.

“It seems like you all are talking just among yourselves,” he said. Cops “used to do that. But then we learned.”

The lunch took place at Japon Bistro on Colorado. Hector ordered tempura and california roll; the chief had the tempura and sushi plate. 



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Woman’s body found in West Covina home

Here’s an excerpt from a story reporter Tania Chatila is working on for tommorrow:

WEST COVINA — Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a 44-year-old woman, whose body was discovered Saturday in the bedroom of a home authorities believe she’d been sharing with roommates for almost a year.
Susan Molina may have been dead for several days before a visitor at the home, in the 2700 block of Lark Hill Drive, phoned police about 12:15 p.m. reporting a dead body in a room, West Covina police Lt. Ron Mitchell said.
Authorities did not know Saturday how Molina died, but did suspect a homicide, said Sgt. Joseph Sevilla.
“According to initial reports, there possibly was blunt force injuries,” said Jerry McKibben, an investigator with the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.
An autopsy is scheduled for today, McKibben said.
Witnesses told police Molina had been living at the home for about 10 months. She shared the residence with the homeowner and several other roommates, Mitchell said.

For the full story, click here.


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Shootings reported in the SGV

Two unrelated shootings were reported late Friday night and early Saturday morning, leaving one man dead and another wounded.

In La Puente, a man was fatally shot as he congregated with friends in his own neighborhood early Saturday.

In Montebello, a man was and wounded by a group of assailants. He is expected to survive.

Officials said both shooting appeared to be gang-related.

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Two suspected in school break-ins

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — A man and woman were arrested Friday on suspicion of stealing about $40,000 worth of athletic equipment from two local schools in recent weeks, authorities said.
Martha McRae, 44, and Mark Wallace, 40, both of La Canada Flintridge, are suspected of breaking into La Canada High School and Flintridge Preparatory School, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Gary Ogurek said.
The burglaries occurred over several days about three weeks ago, officials said.
Detectives investigating the burglaries served a search warrant about 8 a.m. at a home in the 2100 block of La Canada Crest Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Gary Ogurek said.
Inside, property allegedly taken in the burglaries was found, as well as information which led officials to a second location in Montrose, where more allegedly stolen property was found, the sergeant said.
The majority of the property taken from the school’s was recovered, he added.
McRae and Wallace were booked on suspicion of burglary, receiving stolen property and possession of methamphetamine for sales, Ogurek said.
According to court records, both suspects are being held in lieu of $20,000 bail and are due for arraignment in Pasadena Superior Court Wednesday.

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Journalist arrested in Fargo for standing on a dike*

FARGO, N.D. (AP) – A CNN journalist and seven other people have been arrested for standing on top of sandbag levees in the Fargo area.

Fargo Police Sgt. Ross Renner didn’t have many details of the journalist’s arrest, but said the man appeared to be taking pictures at the time.

He says officers made the arrests Wednesday and Thursday after seeing people climb up on the dikes. Renner says police will arrest anyone they see on top of a dike out of concern for people’s safety and the integrity of the levees. He says it’s likely all those arrested have been released.

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FBI seeks Sleeves Bandit


A takeover specialist targeting banks in central California is being sought by the FBI. The Sleeves bandit has apparently worked as far south as La Crescenta and La Canada Flintridge, according to a press release issued Friday.

Here’s a larger gallery of photos:


Press release on the jump…

Continue reading “FBI seeks Sleeves Bandit” »

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El Monte woman found floating in Pacific a possible suicide

Here’s the story, first reported in our sister paper the Daily Breeze by Larry Altman:

Whale watchers on a boat a quarter-mile off Redondo Beach on Wednesday spotted a woman’s body floating in the water.

Police said their preliminary investigation indicates the woman committed suicide.
Sightseers aboard the Voyager noticed the body about 10:30 a.m. Nearly 100 people, including many children, were aboard, Redondo Beach police Sgt. Phil Keenan said.
Redondo Beach Harbor Patrol officers pulled the woman – identified later as Cindy Denq, 39, of El Monte – from the water onto their boat and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but she was already dead.

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