Man accused of killing mother, dumping body in La Habra

SANTA ANA >> Prosecutors Friday filed a murder charge Friday against a Santa Maria man with killing his mother and dumping her body in some bushes behind a La Habra carport earlier this year.
Following five months of investigation, La Habra police detectives arrested Gabriel Anthony Espinoza, 30, of Santa Maria Tuesday in connection with the slaying of his mother, La Habra police Sgt. Jose Quirarte said in a written statement.
After making an initial appearance Friday in Orange County Superior Court, Espinoza was being held without bail pending his next scheduled hearing on Feb. 6, according to Orange County booking records.
A man walking his dog first found the body of 58-year-old clinical social worker Emma Posadas Espinoza of Lompoc about 4:30 a.m. on July 21 in the 900 block of South Idaho Street in La Habra.
“He indicated that he had been walking his dog, off leash, behind the carport area, when his dog alerted on something,” Quirarte said. “He went to investigate and discovered the body. He immediately called the police.”
“The body had been covered with foliage and only the feet and a limited portion of the body appeared to be uncovered. The body was later identified as being Emma Posadas Espinoza.”
But the death remained shrouded in mystery for months. There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body when discovered, officials said. Initial autopsy results were not conclusive.
Autopsy results provided by the Orange County coroner investigators Dec. 17 revealed that Posadas-Espinoza died of asphyxiation, police said. Further details regarding exactly how she died were not available Saturday.
“Based on information gathered in the investigation, which included search warrants and court orders, the La Habra Police Department was able to identify a suspect responsible for the homicide,” Quirarte said.
Aided by Santa Maria police, La Habra officers arrested Espinoza at his Santa Maria home.
Prosecutors have filed a murder charge against the suspect, and also allege the murder involved special circumstances, making Espinoza potentially eligible for the death penalty if convicted. The alleged special circumstance is reportedly murder for financial gain, however officials could not confirm that information over the weekend.
Espinoza called Lompoc police the day his mother’s body was found and told them he hadn’t heard from her, but she was not formally reported missing, Lompoc police Sgt. Chuck Strange said at the time.
Espinoza declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper in July.

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Elderly couple found slain inside home near La Verne


LA VERNE >> A woman and her husband died following an attack inside their home Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The attack occurred in the 300 block of Roughrider Road in an unincorporated county area near La Verne.
Neighbor Don Mineer identified the couple as Shirley and Troy Isom.
The woman, 74, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, according to Lt. Dave Coleman of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. Her husband, 89, was found wounded and later succumbed to his injuries.
Though neighbors knew the man as Troy, sheriff’s officials identified hime as Arnie Isom.
Early reports indicated the couple had been stabbed but Coleman declined to discuss the injuries, which were also described by officials as “blunt force trauma.”
A “grounds keeper” called the sheriff’s San Dimas Sheriff’s station after finding the married couple unresponsive inside the home, Coleman said.
Firefighters responded to a rescue call at 1:16 p.m. involving two critically injured patients, according to county fire Capt. Keith Mora.
“We are very early in the investigation,” said Coleman. “It’s an expansive scene.”
The couple were found near the entryway of the home, Coleman said.
Jose Tamayo, a gardener who was working nearby, reported seeing a man exit the property minutes before the incident was discovered.
Tamayo said the man was wearing a green jacket with a hood, a baseball cap and jeans. He said the man picked up a backpack from nearby bushes, put it on and walked away.
Mineer said he saw a similar man walking down the road as he was driving home.
“He wasn’t hurrying, but he wasn’t wasting a lot of time,” Mineer said. “Now that I think about it, he looked like he was trying to be inconspicuous.”
Lorrie Guzzy, who lives on a nearby street, said she saw a man walking up Live Oak Canyon Road toward Roughrider Road between noon and 12:30 p.m. and thought he was suspicious.
“He didn’t look like a hiker,” Guzzy said. “He looked homeless.”
She said another neighbor also saw the man.
“It just didn’t look right. I wish both of us had called (police),” Guzzy said.
The Isoms lived at the home on a private road at the end of Roughrider Road, Mineer said.
“He’s a good guy and a good friend,” Mineer said, adding that Troy was a contractor.
He thinks the couple lived there for about 20 years.
“(Troy) told my wife he had a shotgun loaded by the door. I think I’ll load mine too,” Mineer said.
Deputies initially responding to the incident sought a man seen leaving the area between age 25 and 30, and between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 11 inches tall. He reportedly wore an orange or blue hooded sweatshirt and carried a green or red backpack. Several people matching the description were detained and questioned in the area, but none were linked to the crime.
But homicide investigators would not confirm the description and did not label the suspicious man reported by neighbors as a suspect int he killing.

"no resales"

PHOTO by Jeo Jarzomb

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Pico Rivera man killed in shooting identified

PICO RIVERA >> Coroner’s officials Sunday identified a Pico Rivera man found fatally shot beside a bicycle on a Rosemead Boulevard sidewalk early Saturday.
Matthew Albert Garcia, 26, died following the shooting, which was reported just before 6 a.m. Saturday in front of an apartment complex in the 5400 block of Rosemead Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Dana Bee said.
A passer-by found him lying on a sidewalk with gunshot wounds, Sgt. Troy Ewing of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
No suspect description was known, officials said. The shooting was believed to be gang-related.

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West Covina teen killed in West Valinda shooting identified

WEST VALINDA >> Coroner officials Saturday identified a 17-year-old West Covina boy who was shot to death in West Valinda Friday.
Erik Sainz died in the 11:40 p.m. shooting at Amar Road and Millbury Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
He was standing with acquaintances in the driveway of a home when two attackers approached on foot, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
One of the assailants pulled a handgun and opened fire, striking Sainz several times in the “upper torso,” Deputy Ruan Rouzan said in a written statement.
The killers fled the area in a blue or green vehicle, officials added. No further suspect description was available.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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UPDATED: Man fatally shot on Pico Rivera sidewalk

 

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PICO RIVERA >> Investigators sought witnesses Saturday in the slaying of a man who was found fatally shot beside a bicycle on a Rosemead Boulevard sidewalk.
The shooting took place shortly before 6 a.m. in front of the Paradise Island apartment complex, 5430 Rosemead Blvd., according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Sgt. Troy Ewing of Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau described the victim as a Latino man who appeared to be in his mid-20s.
1221_NWS_WDN-L-PICO-SHOOTING2The dead man’s identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
A passer-by found the victim lying wounded on a sidewalk in front of the apartment complex, Ewing said.
“Pico Rivera (deputies) received a call of a gunshot victim,” Ewing said.
Nearby residents heard gunshots, but none reported seeing the shooting, he said.
“There’s no suspect info, no witnesses at this time,” the sergeant said.
A white-frame bicycle with blue wheels and handlebars remained leaned against a fence Saturday morning, next to where the shooting victim was discovered.
Neighbors said they did not recognize the bicycle.
A pair of shoes, clothing and other items scattered around a pool of blood at the shooting scene were labeled with yellow evidence marker cards.
Forensic investigators scoured the scene for clues and took photographs.
Detectives were looking into the possibility the shooting was gang-related.
The shooting was one of two violent incidents reported about the same time within a mile-long stretch of Rosemead Boulevard, officials said.
A 25-year-old man showed up at the emergency room of PIH Health Hospital in Whittier with stab wounds, Lt. Sergio Escobedo of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said.
Deputies developed information that the stabbing occurred at or near the Knights Inn, he said, just over a mile to the south of the shooting scene at 6540 Rosemead Boulevard.
Escobedo said the stabbing victim was hospitalized in stable condition Saturday after undergoing surgery. But investigators had not yet had a chance to interview him, and no further information regarding the stabbing was available.
It was unclear if there was any connection between the shooting and stabbing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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UPDATED: Teenager killed in West Valinda shooting


WEST VALINDA >> A 17-year-old boy died Friday following a daytime shooting in a residential West Valinda neighborhood, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 11:40 a.m. at Amar Road and Millbury Avenue, in an SGT-L-SHOT2unincorporated county area just north of La Puente, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“Detectives have learned that the 17-year-old victim was standing in the driveway of a residence with several acquaintances when two suspects approached them on foot,” Deputy Ruan Rouzan of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “One of the suspects shot the victim in the upper torso with a handgun.”
The victim died at the scene of the shooting.
“The suspects were last seen driving away in a blue or green vehicle in an unknown direction,” Rouzan said.
Investigators suspected the fatal shooting was gang-related, officials said.
The body of the victim remained in the driveway of a home at the corner of Millbury Avenue and Amar Road, concealed from public view by a green tarp, as sheriff’s deputies awaited the arrival of coroner officials Friday afternoon.
SGT-L-SHOT1Officials cordoned off the street with yellow crime scene tape, allowing only residents in an out of the area as they collected evidence and took measurements of the scene.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
— Staff writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.

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Glendora man pleads not guilty in fatal 2013 stabbings of two homeless men

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GLENDORA >> A man accused of brutally stabbing two homeless men to death as they slept at a Glendora Car wash last year pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder charges in Pomona Superior Court, prosecutors said.
Drew Alan Friis, 29, of Glendora potentially faces the death penalty if convicted as charged of the Aug. 15, 2013, slayings of John “Little John” Welch and Warren Blagrave, both 52, at a car wash in the 200 block of Route 66, where they has been spending the night in the weeks leading up to their deaths.
Prosecutors are yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the case, or a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. In addition to two counts of murder, officials allege the special circumstance of multiple murders, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the killings.
Investigators arrested Friis the same day the killings occurred. Friis said he was upset with one of the victims, but did not tell officials why, Lt. Ray Lugo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said earlier this year.
Blagrave suffered more than 25 stab wounds, officials said. Welch was stabbed more than 20 times.
Friis is scheduled to return to court Feb. 20 for a preliminary hearing, officials said. In the meantime, he is being held without bail.

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Whittier shooting leaves man dead and teenage girl wounded


WHITTIER >> A man died and a teenage girl was wounded after an argument led to a drive-by shooting early Sunday, police said.
Jose Duarte, 26, of Whittier, died at a hospital following the shooting, which took shortly after midnight along Lambert Road, just east of Sante Fe Springs Road, Whittier police Officer Bradley White said.
A 17-year-old Whittier girl also wounded in the shooting was expected to survive, he said.
Police said the two victims were walking east along a sidewalk when Duarte became involved in an argument with several other people who were across the street at a liquor store. The victims then continued walking east through a residential neighborhood.
“As the male and female victims continued to walk away from the location, the suspects drove past them and fired several shots at the victims,” police said in a written statement.
The gunfire struck Duarte in the chest, officials said. The teenage girl was shot in the back.
Paramedics took Duarte to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
“The suspect vehicle is believed to be a silver or gray sedan,” according to the police statement.
No description of the suspects themselves was available.
It was unclear what the argument that preceded the shooting was about, White said. Police were looking into the possibility the shooting was gang-related.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police at 562-567-9241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Woman’s body found inside car of missing Montebello family

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MONTEBELLO, Calif. >> Police Sunday discovered a woman’s body inside the trunk of the car of a Montebello family that’s been missing for five days, authorities said.
The Perez family was last seen Friday, Montebello police officials said. The missing family includes Daniel Perez, 43, his wife Erica Perez, 39, and their sons Alex, 6, Tristan, 8, Jaiden, 9, and Jordan, 11.
Police launched an investigation Tuesday after a relative reported the Perez family missing, Montebello police officials said in a written statement. The family has not been seen or heard from since.
But the case turned from a missing persons investigation into a homicide investigation Wednesday afternoon when police made a grisly discovery.
Based on a tip received while canvassing the family’s neighborhood, investigators found a black 2010 Honda Accord belonging to the family about 5 p.m., parked along the curb at 2nd Street and Harding Avenue, next to Beverly Hospital, Montebello police Capt. Luis Lopez said. The car was found less than a mile to the north of the family’s 1st Street home.
Police then discovered the body of a woman inside the trunk of the car, Lopez said. It was not clear late Wednesday whether the body found was that of Erica Perez, Lopez said, however the basic description of the body was consistent with the missing woman’s description.
Police released no information regarding how the woman may have died, or how long ago. The Perez family remained unaccounted for.
“The biggest concern we have is for the children,” Lopez said.
The captain described Daniel Perez a a “person of interest” in the investigation.
Family members told police the parents’ marriage was “unstable” and that the couple had a history of domestic violence, police officials said in a written statement,
Police continued seeking the family Wednesday night, Lopez said. Their investigation included a review of vehicles that have recently crossed the Southern border into Mexico, in case the family had left the country.
Police sought a second car registered to the family, which Lopez described as a black 2014 Toyota Camry with California license plate No. 7FDS891.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Montebello police at 323-887-1313.

PHOTOS of Perez family courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.

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Man shot to death in Santa Fe Springs


SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A man died at the scene of a shooting in a residential neighborhood in Santa Fe Springs Sunday night, officials said.
Police discovered the victim lying on the ground near a bicycle about 9:15 p.m. while responding to a report of gunshots in the 9300 block of Millergrove Drive, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
The man, who was estimated to be in his mid-40s to early-50s, died at the scene, White said.
He was believed to be either riding or walking the bicycle north on Millergrove Drive when he was shot, the officer said.
No suspect description or further details were available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Whittier Police Department at 562-567-9200.

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