UPDATED: La Mirada woman killed in weekend stabbing at Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A La Mirada woman died after she was stabbed in front of her adult children during a dispute over a parking space at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet late Friday, Whittier police officials announced Thursday.
A man and woman face murder charges in connection with the stabbing, which took place about 9:30 p.m Friday. at the swap meet, 13963 Alondra Boulevard, Whittier Police Department officials said in a written statement.
Elizabeth Yanez, 43, died at the hospital shortly after the stabbing, police said.
Police found and arrested Reggie Cervantes, 22, and Brenda Jasmine Rangel, 19, both of South Los Angeles, in connection with fatal stabbing early Saturday in South Los Angeles, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Prosecutors filed murder charges against both suspects Tuesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Whittier police officers, who provide police service for Santa Fe Springs, first responded to the swap meet after receiving a report of a fight in the parking lot, Whittier police officials said.
“When officers arrived, they located a female victim lying on the ground with multiple stab wounds to her neck and back,” according to the statement. Police rendered first aid to the woman, who was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. She succumbed to her injuries a short time later.
“As the investigation developed, it was determined that she had been stabbed by a male and female over a dispute involving a parking space within the lot,” the police statement said. The woman’s 22- and 23-year-old children were present during the incident.
Investigators identified a possible suspect vehicle and two potential suspects, who were tracked to South Los Angeles, Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller said.
Cervantes and Rangel were arrested as they were exiting an apartment shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday, according to police and county booking records.
The weapon used in the stabbing remained outstanding Thursday, Miller said. It was unclear what type of stabbing implement was used.
Police did not disclose the stabbing or the arrest until Thursday, two days after charges were filed against the suspects.
Yanez’s mother, Sally Yanez, said the family was still in shock over the sudden tragedy.
“It’s beyond senseless,” she said. “It’s beyond words.”
“In just the blink of an eye, everything’s changed,” Sally Yanez said.
Elizabeth Yanez’s granddaughter was treated for minor injuries following the incident, Sally Yanez said. Her grandson was struck in the head, but did not go to a hospital.
The 43-year-old woman was a dedicated mother who spent a lot of time with her children, her mother said. “She really based everything around them.”
Elizabeth Yanez grew up in South Gate before moving to La Mirada in 1987, Sally Yanez said. She graduated Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton in 1988. She worked in accounting at an Orange County construction company.
“She had a terrific personality, a terrific sense of humor. She was just a force to be reckoned with,” her mother said.
“She loved her Dodgers. She was a die-hard Dodger fan.”
Elizabeth Yanez is survived by her parents, Sally and Larry, her children, 22-year-old Renee Crable and 23-year-old Daniel Crable, and the children’s father, Donnie Crable, who lives out-of-state.
Services were yet to be scheduled.
Prosecutors charged Cervantes and Rangel each with murder and assault with a deadly weapon Tuesday in Norwalk Superior Court, Ardalani said.
Prosecutors also allege that Cervantes personally used a knife in the commission of the crime, and that he has prior felony convictions for robbery and receiving stolen property, according to the felony complaint filed against him and Rangel.
Rangel pleaded not guilty to all charges Tuesday and was ordered back to court Oct. 29 for preliminary hearing, Ardalani said. Cervantes entered no plea Tuesday. His arraignment was postponed until Nov. 20.
Cervantes and Rangel were being held in lieu of $1 million bail each.

 

 

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Man pleads not guilty to fatally stabbing grandmother in East Los Angeles

EAST LOS ANGELES >> A man accused of stabbing his grandmother to death at the East Los Angeles home they shared pleaded not guilty to a murder charge Wednesday, officials said.
Armando Sepulveda, 23, fatally stabbed 59-year-old Anna Maria Sepulveda, whose body was discovered Monday inside her home in the 100 block of North Gage Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials said.
She had not been seen since Friday, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Deputies discovered her body at the home shortly before noon Monday after checking on Anna Sepulveda at the request of concerned family members, Francisco said. The woman had been stabbed several times in the torso.
Deputies also found Armando Sepulveda at the home and arrested him in connection with the slaying.
An alleged motive in the fatal stabbing has not been released.
In addition to murder, prosecutors also accuse Armando Sepulveda of the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the crime, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
He was ordered back to court Nov. 5 for a preliminary hearing setting, district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling said.
If convicted as charged, Armando Sepulveda could face life in state prison.

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Valinda man pleads not guilty to murder of girlfriend in Monrovia

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MONROVIA >> A Valinda man accused of strangling his girlfriend in an SUV before sending pictures of her body and an apologetic message to his mother pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Pasadena Superior Court, officials said.
Prosecutors charged Joel Velasquez, 49, last month with the murder of his 46-year-old girlfriend, Alice Marie Medina-Kaplan, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said. Deputies found her body Sept. 21 inside an SUV parked in her father’s backyard in the 200 block of Mauna Loa Drive in Monrovia.
Medina-Kaplan and Velasquez had been staying in the SUV, officials said.
Prosecutors also accuse Velasquez of the special allegation that he has a previous felony conviction in 2011 for making criminal threat.
Velasquez entered a not guilty plea, Santiago said. He is scheduled to come back to court Nov. 17 for a preliminary hearing setting.
An autopsy determined Medina-Kaplan died of strangulation, and her death was ruled a homicide, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operation Ed Winter said.
Via text message, “(Velasquez) sent pictures to his mother of his deceased girlfriend,” Winter said. The grisly photos were accompanied by a message saying he was sorry.
Handling detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, who are assisting Monrovia police in the investigation, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Friends recalled Medina-Kaplan was a woman with a once-bright future who was formerly married to an attorney and living in upscale neighborhoods before mental illness changes thr course of her life. Medina-Kaplan met Velasquez at a homeless shelter in Altadena.
Medina-Kaplan’s father told KABC that his daughter suffered from schizophrenia.
Velasquez faces up to 30 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged.

PHOTO of Alica Marie Medina-Kaplan courtesy of the DMV.

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UPDATED: Killer sought in fatal stabbing of man in Monterey Park

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MONTEREY PARK >> Homicide detectives sought clues Wednesday into the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old man in the parking lot of a business.
Edward Mendoza, 35, died at a hospital after he was wounded in the stabbing about 9:10 p.m. Tuesday at the corner of Portrero Grande and Arroyo drives, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. He was believed to have been staying in Monterey Park.
1016_NWS_PSN-L-STABBING1Few details were available regarding the stabbing. No description of the killer was known.
After being stabbed, Mendoza managed to call 9-1-1 from a cell phone to seek help, Corina said.
Responding police officers and paramedics found Mendoza collapsed at what was believed to be the scene of the stabbing in the parking lot of a business park, Corina said.
Paramedics took Mendoza to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries at 10:11 p.m., Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
A friend and co-worker of the victim at the city of Alhambra, who did not want to be identified, said that the victim worked with children as a physical education coach.
1016_NWS_PSN-L-STABBING2“It’s a huge loss to the family. We are very close,” he said.
Alhambra city officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
A second man, who identified himself as the victim’s childhood friend, believes the victim may have been leaving from the home of his mother, who lives in the area.
According to the man, the victim not drive and took public transportation to get around. He also said the victim was found with his backpack and wallet.
The motive in the fatal stabbing remained under investigation.
“Right now, it doesn’t look like he was robbed,” Corina said.
The circumstance leading up to the killing also remained unclear Wednesday. “We don’t know what he was doing there,” Corina said.
Mendoza had been staying several blocks away, but within walking distance, from the parking lot where he was stabbed, the lieutenant said.
Other than that he needed help, Corina declined to discuss what Mendoza said during his call to 9-1-1 after being stabbed, citing the ongoing investigation.
The weapon used in the killing had not been recovered Wednesday afternoon, he said.
Detectives Wednesday continued reviewing surveillance cameras at nearby businesses for clues, Corina added.
Virginia Schellberg, an employee at Southern California Funeral Service located in the business complex, said the victim’s girlfriend and best friend were at the scene at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“They said there was no reason for him to out walking (at that hour) and they don’t understand how it happened,” Schellberg said. “They stopped by because they wanted to see where it happened. They’re devastated.”
Anyone with information is asked to call LASD Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Friends set up an online fund to collect donations to benefit Mendoza’s family at www.gofundme.com/fvoges.

- By Venusse Navid and Brian Day

PHOTO of crime scene by Venusse Navid

PHOTOS of Edward Menoza, courtesy

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Alleged Pico Rivera gang members charged with fatal shooting of Whittier man in front of his home

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WHITTIER >> Prosecutors filed murder charges Friday against two alleged Pico Rivera gang members accused of fatally shooting a man as he took out the garbage at his Whittier home in broad daylight.
Jonathan Rojas, 34, died at a hospital following the Aug. 30 shooting at Washington Avenue and La Cuarta street, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County coroner’s officials.
Anthony Michel Delci, 30, and Victor Marcus Arzate, 24, pleaded not guilty Friday in Bellflower Superior Court, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Police described both suspects as members of the Pico Nuevo street gang.
Delci, Arzate and a teenager who has not been charged in the case drove past Rojas’ home about 12:10 p.m., investigators said. They stopped in front of a front of a group of people on the porch.
“Delci and Arzate yelled out their gang affiliation, flashed some gang signs and then drove off,” according to the Whittier police department statement.
“Delci and Arzate circled around and came back to the residence on Washington Avenue, Delci stopped his vehicle in front of the victim’s address and Arzate exited the vehicle and approached Rojas who was taking out the trash,” the statement said.
Arzate asked Rojas what gang he belong to, and Rojas responded he was not in a gang, the police statement said. “Arzate then fired a .357 revolver at Rojas, striking him several times.”
The two suspects and the teen then all fled in Delci’s Honda CRV SUV, officials said.
After identifying Delci’s SUV as the one used in the shooting, Delci was arrested later that night, police said. He had the alleged murder weapon with him. Arzate was arrested Sept. 5.
Prior to being charged with murder Friday, Delci was being held on suspicion of illegal gun possession, and Arzate was being held in connection with an alleged robbery, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford said. Arzate has also since been charged with illegal gun possession.
Prosecutors also allege the slaying was gang-related, that a firearm was used in the killing and that Delci personally used a gun in the crime.
If convicted as charged, Delci and Arzate could each face more than 50 years to life in state prison. They were scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court Oct. 14 for a preliminary hearing setting. Bail has been set at more than $2 million each.

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Man fatally shot at Norwalk home identified; investigation ongoing

NORWALK >> Officials have released the name of a man who was fatally shot at a Norwalk home last week, as the search for his killer continued.
Michael Ochoa, 27, died at a hospital following the 3:45 p.m. Sept. 15 shooting in the 12700 block of Rexton Street, Lt. Ed Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Ochoa was believed to be a Los Angeles County resident, however his hometown was not clear Wednesday, the lieutenant said.
No suspect had been arrested or identified Wednesday, as detectives continued following up on leads, conducting interviews and re-canvassing the neighborhood for clues, he said.
Detectives were also sorting through conflicting information given by witnesses.
Ochoa went to the home to visit a friend or girlfriend, Hernandez said. He became involved in an argument with a man in the backyard of the home.
“There was some time of struggle between the suspect and the victim,” Hernandez said. “That struggle escalated into the suspect retrieving handgun and shooting the victim.”
A description of the gunman was unavailable, and no getaway car was reported by witnesses in connection with the crime.
Detectives were still looking into the circumstances of the shooting and Ochoa’s connection to the home, as well as the shooters. Ochoa was not believed to have gang ties.
Witnesses reported hearing arguing and a gunshot coming from the Rexton Avenue home before seeing a wounded man stumbling to the street from the backyard, according to Deputy Amber Smith of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau. He walked toward the east for about a block before collapsing.
Paramedics rushed the man to the University of Southern California, Irvine Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries, Lt. Cynthia Chavez of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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Woman strangled to death in Monrovia, suspect jailed

MONROVIA >> A woman was found strangled to death in Monrovia late Sunday, and a man was arrested in connection with her death, authorities said.
Few details were initially released regarding the death, which was reported just before 4 p.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 200 block of Mauna Loa Drive, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
Monrovia police deferred comment to the sheriff’s department, which is spearheading the investigation.
No further details were available.

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UPDATED: Pico Rivera teen and man accused of murder in stabbing death of teen’s father

PICO RIVERA >> A teenage boy previously sought as a “person of interest” in his father’s fatal stabbing in Pico Rivera was arrested on suspicion of murder Sunday, along with a second suspect, authorities said.
Detectives sought Sergio Anthony Gutierrez, 17, of Pico Rivera since his 50-year-old father was found fatally stabbed about 1:30 a.m. Saturday at the family home in the 3700 block of Oaklawn Lane, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Coroner’s officials have not yet released the name of the slain father, however neighbors said he was also named Sergio Gutierrez.
The teenage Gutierrez was detained Sunday morning, along with Jesus Rafael Adame, 18, by Montebello police, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records. Adame’s city of residence was not available.
After questioning the teen and Adame, detectives arrested them both on suspicion of murder about noon, Sgt. Sean Geske of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said.
The investigation was ongoing, and detectives continued seeking possible additional suspects, Geske said.
Handling detectives could not be reached for comment Sunday, and no further details regarding the arrests were available.
Deputies went to the house inside a gated community after a woman described as the suspect’s mother and victim’s wife called 9-1-1 to report a robbery, sheriff’s officials said. Deputies arrived to find the elder Gutierrez mortally wounded in the family room of the home. He had been stabbed several times in the torso.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, Francisco said. It was not clear if anything had been stolen.
The teenage Gutierrez was believed to have been home, along with his mother and another woman who rented a room in the home, when the stabbing took place, Francisco said. But by the time deputies arrived at the scene, both the teen and the family car were missing.
Investigators described the teen as a “person of interest” as they sought him Saturday, stopping short of labeling him a suspect in his father’s slaying.
It was unclear Sunday whether prosecutors would seek to charge the 17-year-old murder suspect as an adult.
According to county booking records, Adame was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Man stabbed to death in his Pico Rivera home; son sought as ‘person of interest’


PICO RIVERA >> A man died after being stabbed inside his home early Saturday, and his teenage son and the family car were missing, authorities said.
The fatal stabbing took place about 1:30 a.m. at a home within a gated community in the 3700 block of Oaklawn Lane, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The circumstances of the slaying remained a mystery as investigators poured over the scene Saturday afternoon.
“At this time, we don’t know what happened inside this residence,” Francisco said.
Coroner’s officials did not release the name of the 50-year-old stabbing victim, however neighbors identified him as Sergio Gutierrez.
0921_NWS_WDN-L-STAB1His son, 17-year-old Sergio Anthony Gutierrez, was believed to be home at the time of the stabbing, but has not been seen since, Francisco said. Also missing is the family car, a silver, 200 Infiniti with a California license plate of 4MAB667.
The teenage son was not considered a suspect, but was being sought for questioning as a “person of interest,” Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said.
The victim lived at the home with his wife, their son and a woman who rented a room in their home, Francisco said.
Deputies first responded to the home after victim’s wife called 9-1-1 and reported a robbery, Francisco said. Further details regarding the initial 9-1-1 call were not available.
Deputies arrived to discover the homeowner lying in the front family room of the home, suffering from several stab wounds to his torso, Francisco said. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m.
There were no signs the home had been broken into or that an intruder had been present, Francisco said. It had not been determined whether anything other than the family car was missing from the home.
Deputies have visited the home more than once in the past for domestic violence calls, however further details of deputies’ previous visits to the home were not available, the lieutenant said.
Neighborhood resident Ariel Acosta, 22, said he grew up with the teenage Sergio Gutierrez.
“It’s sad. I just want to know what happened,” he said.
Acosta described the younger Gutierrez as a “calm” and “quiet” boy who loved soccer, and had previously played for El Rancho High School.
“He’s a normal kid, just like the rest of us,” Acosta said.
0921_NWS_WDN-L-STAB2The neighbor said although he did not know the parents as well, “To me, it was a normal family.”
The father was often seen taking his son to school, or playing soccer with him in the family’s front yard, Acosta said.
Acosta said the husband and wife often walked their pet Chihuahuas in the neighborhood.
Despite Saturday’s tragedy, Acosta said he believed the neighborhood was a safe one.
“I’ve always felt safe in here. I’ve lived here 18 years,” he said.

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Riverside man fatally shot in El Monte identified

EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 21-year-old Riverside man who was fatally shot when two gunman opened fire on a parked car he was sitting in on an El Monte Street earlier this week.
Jose Manuel Valenzuela died at hospital shortly after Monday’s shooting, which also left another man critically wounded, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
The shooting took place shortly after midnight in a residential cul-de-sac in the 2600 block of Sastre Avenue, just north of Fern Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Lt. David Coleman of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Valenzuela and the surviving victim, a 29-year-old El Monte man, were rear passengers in a parked car with two other occupants when the attackers approached in another car.
Two gunmen exited the approaching car and immediately began shooting into the rear of the victims’ car, Coleman said.
No description of the shooters was available, nor was a description of their car, which investigators said was last seen speeding south on Sastre Avenue.
The victims’ companions drove them to Greater Community Hospital in South El Monte, Coleman said.
Valenzuela succumbed to his injuries about 12:30 p.m., Winter said. The other wounded man was hospitalized in critical condition. An update on his condition was not available.
No further details were released.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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