West Covina youths arrested in high school gun plot

Two West Covina teens were arrested in connection with a plot to possibly shoot up an assembly at Covina High School Thursday afternoon, officials said.

The teens, whose names have not been released are in custody, according to West Covina police Chief Frank Wills.
At least one of the teens was arrested on campus. Two firearms were recovered. One a semi-auto that looks like a 9mm. The other appears to be a .357 magnum revolver.
We will have a story on line soon.
* the semi-auto was a Glock 40
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Details from LAPD’s John Floyd Thomas investigation begin to emerge

This from the LAPD


Los Angeles:  Los Angeles Police Department Robbery Homicide Detectives have announced the arrest of a 72-year-old man who has been positively linked to two LAPD Cold Case homicides.  The suspect, John Floyd Thomas Jr., is also linked by DNA evidence to murders being investigated by the Inglewood Police Department and Los County Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, he is suspected in as many as thirty murders and scores of rapes occurring in the Southland during the 1970’s and 1980’s.


During November 2001, under the guidance of Robbery-Homicide Division the Los Angeles Police Department created a Cold Case Homicide Unit.  Over the years, detectives assigned to this unit have been responsible for reviewing unsolved murder cases, assessing evidence from those cases, and identifying the potential for application of new forensic techniques, which includes, but is not limited to DNA testing. 


As part of the review process, detectives screened the unsolved murder of Ethel Sokoloff.  At the time of her tragic death in 1972, Sokoloff was 68 years old.  She was found in her home, beaten and strangled.  The apparent motive of the murder appeared to have been of a sexual nature.  The cold case detectives’ review of this case revealed that there was biological evidence within the victim’s Sexual Assault Evidence Kit, and that this evidence had never been analyzed for the presence of foreign DNA.  Subsequently, a request was made to Scientific Investigation Division.


Detectives also identified the unsolved murder of Elizabeth McKeown who was killed in 1976.  At the time of her death, McKeown was 67 years old.  A review of the investigative materials revealed that McKeown was attacked after parking her vehicle at her home.  She too had been brutally beaten and strangled.  Again, the apparent motive of this murder appeared to be of a sexual nature.  Similar to the Sokoloff case, it was believed that by using DNA analysis on the biological evidence obtained from within McKeown’s Sexual Assault Evidence Kit, it would potentially provide a direct lead to the suspect responsible for committing this senseless crime.  Detectives requested that Scientific Investigation Division examine the evidence for the presence of DNA.


A male DNA profile was developed in each of these independent cases and was uploaded into the California CODIS databank.  During 2004, a case-to-case DNA match was made linking the male DNA profile from the Sokoloff case to the male DNA profile identified in the McKeown murder.  Although the DNA profiles matched one another, the name of the offender was not identified in the database.


Between 2004 and 2009, cold case detectives worked diligently in an effort to identify this potential murder suspect.  While continuing their investigation, detectives frequently compared a potential suspects DNA profile to that recovered from the Sokoloff and McKeown sexual assault evidence kits.  Approximately 14 DNA profiles were compared and eliminated, they were not connected.


In September 2004, detectives were notified that DNA case-to-case matches had been made to three unsolved murders that occurred between 1976 and 1986 in the City of Inglewood and Los Angeles County. 


On March 27, 2009, the California Department of Justice notified the Los Angeles Police Department that a CODIS DNA match had been made and the killer identified in the murders of Ethel Sokoloff and Elizabeth McKeown, and the victims in the cases being investigated by the Inglewood Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.


The offender has been identified as John Floyd Thomas.  He is now 72 years old and a resident of Los Angeles.  A review of Thomas’s criminal history revealed that he was arrested a number of times between 1955 and 1978.  His criminal convictions consist of multiple burglaries, many of which involved sexual assaults of his victims.  Other than an arrest for prostitution in 1993, Thomas has not had any other known law enforcement contact during recent years.


On March 31, 2009, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department arrested John Floyd Thomas for the murders of Ethel Sokoloff and Elizabeth McKeown, and his bail was set at one million dollars.


Cold Case detectives will focus on connecting Thomas to additional cases during those years when he was not in custody for other crimes.  Detectives will begin in the mid-1950s when his criminal history began in the Los Angeles area.  The review will likely include cases occurring through the decade of the 1980s.  During that approximate 35-year span, Thomas was in custody for a total of roughly twelve years.      


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Pasadena PD looks at possible cold case ties to John Floyd Thomas, Jr.

The Pasadena PD is examining the possibility that John Floyd Thomas, Jr. may be responsible for homicides there in the late 1970s, officials said Thursday.

Thomas, a onetime resident of Pasadena, was arrested there in the late 70s, officials said.

Thomas, the suspected “Westside Rapist” may be responsible for the deaths of as many as 25 elderly women in Los Angeles County in the 70s and 80s. An LAPD homicide detective dubbed him “prolific.”

We’ll have a story up later today. We’re also looking at Thomas’ connections in Pomona and Chino where he worked and lived, and his connection to at least on homicide in Claremont in 1986.


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John Floyd Thomas Jr: “Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer” *

From the Associated Press:


LOS ANGELES – Police believe a 72-year-old man charged with two cold-case murders is tied to two decades-old waves of Southern California serial killings and as many as 25 victims.

DNA matching former insurance adjuster John Floyd Thomas Jr. was found at five crime scenes spanning the killing-and-rape rampages in west Los Angeles in the 1970s and Claremont in the 1980s, said LAPD Robbery-Homicide Cold Case Detective Richard Bengston.

“When all is said and done, Mr. Thomas stands to be Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer,” Bengston told the Los Angeles Times.

Police planned to reveal details of the case at a Thursday news conference.

In the first wave of killings in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, a man police dubbed “The Westside Rapist” entered the homes of elderly women who lived alone, raped them and choked them until they passed out or died. The 17 who were killed were found with pillows or blankets over their faces.

A decade later and 40 miles to the east, five elderly women in Claremont were found raped and killed, also with blankets or pillows over their faces.

Despite some 20 survivors of similar attacks, detectives said they didn’t solve either set of cases nor connect the two. They blamed conflicting descriptions from victims, lack of communication between agencies and a past absence of DNA technology.

LA Times map of Westside crime spree.

*LAPD press release on the jump

Continue reading “John Floyd Thomas Jr: “Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer” *” »

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La Puente man shot while taking out trash

LA PUENTE — Someone yelled out a gang name and opened fire on a man taking out the trash in front of his home Wednesday, hitting the man twice in leg.
The drive-by shooting occurred about 1:50 p.m. in front of a house at Amar Road and Melham Avenue in an unincorporated county area near La Puente.
The wounded 20-year-old man was shot twice in the leg, said his uncle, who asked that his name not be published for fear of retaliation.
The nephew and two of his friends were doing some cleaning at the home prior to the attack, the uncle said.
“They were taking out some trash… and there were like five shots,” he said.
At least one man in the car yelled out the name of a Bassett street gang during the incident, he added.
Two or more attackers fled southbound on Melham Avenue in a dark-colored compact car, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rico Sandoval said.
The wounds did not appear to be life-threatening, he added.
A minivan parked in front of the home had two bullet holes in it. The home’s wall also had one bullet hole.
“The other two are in my nephew’s leg,” the uncle said.
The uncle said his nephew was not involved with gangs.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “Why in broad daylight?”
The uncle said the shooting in the normally quiet neighborhood had him worried about the safety of his family. One of the bullets struck a wall only feet from his elderly mother’s room.
“I’ll keep an eye out,” he said. “That’s all I can do.”
Wednesday’s attack occurred about a mile away from a fatal shooting on March 28 in which attackers yelled the name of a Bassett street gang.
Oscar Reyes, a 33-year-old father and local resident, was gunned down as he stood in front of an apartment building on Cadwell Street, just west of Aileron Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Family members said Reyes was not involved with gangs.
Gang violence often comes in surges, Sandoval said.
“Like any gang out there, sometimes their activity level rises and then drops,” Sandoval said. “It often depends on which members are currently in jail.”

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Cops release photo of El Monte robber


27289-El Monte Robber 4-24-09-thumb-300x225.jpg

Police released photos of an armed robbery Wednesday in hopes of tracking down the culprit.
The robbery occurred shortly after 8 p.m. Friday at Ted’s Quality Market, 2514 Durfee Ave., El Monte police Detective Ralph Batres said.
The brandished a handgun during the crime and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, the detective said.
“The photos we’ve obtained are of good quality, and we need the public’s assistance,” Batres said. “Somebody’s going to recognize him.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Batres at (626) 705-1981, or (626) 580-2100.

*Photo courtesy of the El Monte Police Department

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Thursday’s column (a day early)

Once the Pontiac motto said it all: “We build excitement.”

Sadly, if there’s anything left to be said about the once proud brand it’s this: “We build nothing.”

It’s funny to watch Pontiac commercials from the 1960s on YouTube. There’s a great pseudo psychedelic ad with Paul Revere and the Raiders extolling the features of a rust-colored fastback roaring down a test track somewhere in the desert.

Judge! The special great one from Pontiac, GTO!!

Hurst gear shifter,

three speed or four

Pontiac Ram Air, 366 horse

Mag-type wheels, 60-inch spoiler, airfoil

The Judge will rule!!

My brother had a 1970 455-HO 4-speed GTO he bought from a cousin in Claremont who bought it from a guy in Omaha.

“You can’t even get one like this in California because of all the smog crap they have to put inside,” my cousin claimed as he handed my brother Steve the keys.

The car was loaded and fast. I remember a trip down Baseline from Claremont to Cucamonga that probably took all of three minutes.

But I also remember Steve working for hours on the clutch, the carb, the belts, the electrical system, and a million other minor problems.

Ultimately that was the problem with the Detroit iron. For all the marketing and the hype, it wasn’t reliable.

Lay the blame at the doorsteps of GM, Ford, Chrysler and UAW.

On Monday, after GM announced it would no longer make Pontiacs, I got in my Saturn and cruised my little corner of the San Gabriel Valley looking for one. I saw an unremarkable G6 and an old Firebird.

Needless to say there were plenty of Lexus, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Kias.

It’s interesting to note that the Pontiac brand was named for an American Indian war lord who led a 1763 rebellion against the British at Fort Detroit. Chief Pontiac’s success perhaps emboldened the colonists who successfully tossed Brittish rule less than 20 years later.

Pontiac as a symbol of a young free nation had to be a powerful — if subliminal — marketing tool.

Pontiac’s rebellion began on April 27, 1763. The Pontiac brand died April 27, 2009 — 246 years to the day.

My brother ended up selling the rusted-out hulk of his GTO to a guy in Spokane, who fixed it up and cruised on Friday nights along Sprague Avenue.

Forty years after it was built, the car is probably in a junk heap somewhere — just like Detroit, a symbol of an America that no longer exists.

Octomom’s “krazy” life

Octomom must have needed a reminder she has 14 kids.

Nadya Suleman, the La Habra woman who gave birth to the longest surviving set of octuplets, decided to get a tramp stamp in Hollywood.

She got a tat of an angel surrounded by 14 stars — one for each kid.

That she choose a place called Kustom Kulture and got inked by a guy named Dik, probably says more about her and the true demise of our culture than I ever could.

Shockingly, (as the tablods like to say in all caps) Octomom chose to get inked in the wee hours of the morning. Who was watching the kids is anyone’s guess.

I wonder if the good-hearted people of middle America who reached into their pockets to help this woman and her brood with gifts of diapers, cash and toys realize their donations are going to frivolous pursuits, while the kids are attended to at midnight by hired help?

It amazes me that the county’s child protective services hasn’t stepped in and put an end to this farce.

Then again perhaps Nadya is doing her part to help the local economy by keeping freakish unkempt paparazzi and tattoo artists named Dik employed during tough times.

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