Man found dead after Altadena apartment fire identified

ALTADENA — Coroner’s officials have released the name of a man whose badly burned body was found following a fire inside his unit at a senior citizens’ apartment complex.
Eldrid Sweeney, 81, of Altadena was pronounced dead at the scene of the two-alarm fire that broke out about 1:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in the 26090 block of North Lincoln Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said. An autopsy had been carried out, however Sweeney’s cause of death was not yet determined pending the results of test results.
Sweeney’s identity was previously unconfirmed due to the badly burned condition in which his body was found.
The cause of the fire, which left one other person with minor injuries, was under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail.
Officials estimated the fire caused $1.05 million worth of damage to the building and its contents.

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Altadena men accused of West Covina burglary, robbery

Police Wednesday arrested two Altadena men accused of burglarizing a home in West Covina, then robbing the resident of his cell phone when he interrupted the crime and called 9-1-1, authorities said.
Joshua Washington and Terrance Hall, both 18 and of Altadena, were booked on suspicion of burglary and robbery, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez said in a written statement.
The break-in took place about 11:20 a.m. Tuesday in the 600 block of South Charvers Avenue, police said.
A man arrived home to find two intruders inside his house, Lopez said. The burglars fled, and the man began calling 9-1-1 on his cell phone.
“However, one suspect returned to the victim and forcible took the phone away,” the corporal said. They then fled in a white Lexus parked in front of the home.
The resident had noticed a Lexus he didn’t recognize when he first arrived home and wrote down the license plate number, which he was able to provide to investigators, Lopez said. Additionally, the West Covina Police Department’s Forensic Identification Unit was able to lift latent fingerprints from the burgled home.
Further investigation led police to a home in the 2700 block of Tola Street in Altadena early Wednesday, where Washington and Hall were taken into custody without a struggle, Lopez said. The Lexus seen in front of the victim’s home was found nearby.
According to county booking records, the suspects were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each pending their scheduled arraignments Friday in West Covina Superior Courts.

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Human skeletal remains found in northern Altadena

ALTADENA — Homicide detectives are investigating the discovery of human skeletal remains along a remote section of Fair Oaks Avenue at the northern end of Altadena late Wednesday, authorities said.
Little information was available late Wednesday regarding the discovery, which was reported just before 12:30 p.m. in the 3900 block of Fair Oaks Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The remains were initially described as skeletal human remains, including a skull, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said. No further description of the bones or exactly where and how they were found was available.
With the remote location on the edge of the Angeles National Forest and diminishing daylight working against investigators, many questions were expected to remain unanswered until Thursday.
“Due to the terrain, weather and hour of darkness, detectives will respond tomorrow, along with personnel from the coroner’s office, and continue their investigation,” according to Lt. Holly Francisco of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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Computer equipment stolen from school recovered from Altadena home; suspect arrested

ALTADENA — Detectives arrested an Altadena man Thursday after recovinering about $2,000 worth of computer equipment stolen over the summer from a Los Angeles County school.
Freddie Spears, 43, was arrested and booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property after deputies served a search warrant about 7 a.m. at his home in the 300 block of Calaveras Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Officials released little information about the ongoing investigation, as detectives continued seeking additional suspects and stolen computer equipment yet to be recovered, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Lasko said. He declined to identify the school, which lost about $10,000 worth of computer equipment in a summertime burglary.
Spears was taken into custody without a struggle, Lasko said.
According to county booking records, Spears was being held in lieu of $20,00 bail at the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Pasadena Superior Court.

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Body discovered in forest north of Altadena

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Detectives are investigating the discovery of a body along a hiking trail in the forest north of Altadena Sunday afternoon.
A hiker reported discovering the body, initially described only as male, shortly before 4 p.m. to the east of Inspiration Point, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Brian Fitch said. Officials located the body about 4:10 p.m.
Few details were available, as communications in the forest were limited, Fitch said.
It had not yet been determined Sunday afternoon whether the death involved foul play.

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Employees bound during takeover robbery at Altadena Walmart

ALTADENA — A group of armed men bound employees and ordered a manger to open a safe during a takeover-style robbery at a Walmart store early Saturday, authorities said.
The crime took place about 3:30 a.m. at the store on Lincoln Avenue at Figueroa Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Booker Hollis said. A group of employees was outside the store taking a break when they were approached by four robbers, described only as male and wearing dark-colored hooded sweatshirts, who were carrying small-caliber handguns.
“They ordered the employees into the store,” Hollis said. “Once inside, the suspects zip-tied te employees’ hands.”
The employees were then ordered into an office where the store’s safe is stored and instructed to lie face-down on the floor, the sergeant said.
Hollis said the gunmen ordered a manager to open the safe and fled the store with $4,000 to $5,000. They were last seen running east from the store.
No injuries were reported, Hollis added.
Detectives continued following up on clues and checking surveillance cameras for evidence Saturday.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Altadena Station at 626-798-1131.

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UPDATED: Fire destroys Altadena garage

ALTADENA — A fire blamed on a cigarette destroyed a residential garage and caused minor damage to two adjacent houses before being extinguished by firefighters Saturday, officials said.
The fire was first reported about 12:13 p.m. in a detached garage in the 3500 block McNally Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Bernard Peters said. It was declared “knocked down” just over 15 minutes later.
A woman in her 50s was taken to a hospital for treatment of a medical condition, though she was not believed to have been injured in the fire, Peters said.
It was not clear if she was a resident of one of the affected homes.
No one was displaced as a result of the fire, fire Capt. John Knowles said.
The fire, which caused about $40,000 worth of damage, was believed to have been sparked by a discarded cigarette, the captain added.

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Shooting leaves blood, shell casings and mystery in Altadena

ALTADENA –
Deputies responding to calls about shots fired Tuesday found shell
casings and blood but no victim or shooter.
Lt. Elisabeth Sachs said callers reported hearing six to seven shots
on Stonehurst Drive and Lincoln Avenue at 11:25 p.m.
A white car was seen leaving the location, she added.
Sachs said deputies discovered three shell casings and a small amount
of blood on the street.
They also checked local hospitals and no gunshot victim has turned up, she said.
- Ruby Gonzales

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Shots fired in Altadena neighborhood

ALTADENA – Deputies responding to calls about gunfire in a neighborhood Wednesday night found shell casings but no victims.
The shooting broke out around 9:30 p.m. in the 100 block of West Altadena Drive, according to Lt. Elisabeth Sachs of the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station.
She said the station received four to five calls about gunshots in the area. Deputies recovered seven shell casings.
While a nearby house had been hit in previous shootings, Sachs said it’s unknown if the suspect or suspects targeted the residence on Wednesday.
Nobody was injured and there was no evidence of property damage, she said.

- Ruby Gonzales

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Man and woman arrested in 1997 Altadena cold case homicide believed to have stemmed from argument over CDs

Darryl Johnson, 38, Pasadena

PASADENA — Detectives Tuesday arrested a man and woman in connection with a 1997 cold case slaying in Altadena believed to have stemmed from a dispute over CDs.
Blood gang member Darryl Lamont Johnson, also known as Darryl Callum, 38, of Pasadena, was once linked to the infamous 1993 Halloween Homicides, Detective Michael Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Cold Case Unit said.
In addition to murder, Johnson, affiliated with the Pasadena Denver Lanes gang, was also accused of the special allegations of personal use of a firearm and that the crime was gang-related.
Also arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder was Dominique Raquel Evans, 41, of
Darryl Lamont Johnson, 38, of Pasadena and Dominique Evans, 41, of Pasadena were arrested Tuesday, May 21, 2013, on suspicion of the June 21, 1997 shooting death of 18-year-old Johnis Jackson in his hometown of Altadena.
Pasadena. She was also described as a Blood gang affiliate.
Dominique Evans, 41, PasadenaThe two are accused in the 1997 shooting death of Johnis Jackson, 18, of Altadena at Fair Oaks Avenue and Harriet Street, the detective said.
“After all these years, this is something that I wanted. I wanted that closure,” said Vivian Knox, mother of Jackson.
Johnson was also once expected to testify as a witness, but ultimately refused, in the case of the fatal 1993 Halloween shooting that left three boys dead.
Investigators Rodriguez and Gary Sica described Jackson’s 1997 slaying as senseless and cowardly.
“We believe that the murder all stemmed from a disagreement regarding some possible stolen CDs,” Rodriguez said.
Johnson and Evans were arrested hours after detectives secured charges against the suspects and obtained a warrant for their arrests, Rodriguez said. A scheduled arraignment Wednesday in Pasadena Superior Court was postponed until May 28, court officials said.
Johnson and Evans were boyfriend and girlfriend at the time of the early morning June 21, 1997, slaying of Johnis Jackson at Fair Oaks Avenue and Harriet Street, the detective said. Their current relationship is unclear, though they have children together.
Jackson was a member of a Crips gang in Altadena, investigators said.
After attending a party, he was congregating with some other gang affiliates at Loma Alta park in Altadena, Rodriguez said. An argument broke out between one of Johnson’s gang affiliates and a woman at the park, who detectives identified Wednesday as Evans.
Evans accused Jackson’s gang-affiliate of stealing CDs, and the man slapped her, Rodriguez said.
After making threats, Evans left the park, he said. She was accompanied by several other women.
Jackson tried to calm the situation, and even offered to buy the angry woman new CDS to replace the ones she claimed were missing, Rodriguez said.
But less than half an hour later, Jackson was shot to death at Fair Oaks Avenue and Harriet Street as he was walking to his car with another young man, officials said.
Though investigators had long had leads in the case, they were not previously able to obtain a criminal filing, Rodriguez said.
As the investigation has continued through the years, “We had several people come forward,” he said.
New information, “coupled with the statements that witnesses gave us years ago,” assisted detectives in securing the charges Tuesday, Rodriguez said. He declined to comment on the specifics of new information received by investigators.
“(Past) accounts of the incident implicating both Evans and (Johnson) were corroborated. ”
Following more than 15 years of investigation, detectives Tuesday secured charges against Johnson and Evans and obtained warrants for their arrests, Rodriguez said. They were taken into custody later in the day during separate traffic stops in Pasadena.
Evangelina Young of Los Angeles, who said she’s known Evans for 25 years, disputed sheriff’s investigators assertion that she was involved with gangs, and said she did not believe Evans was involved with the fatal shooting. ”
She’s not gang member, and not affiliated,” Young said. “She would never be a part of somebody murdering somebody.”
Evans was a community-oriented and deeply religious woman, the friend added.
She would never get wrapped up in something like that,” Young said. “She’s not that person. It’s just not who she is.”
Young said she was less familiar with Johnson, though she was acquainted with him through Evans.
“He’s very quiet,” she said. “He’s a businessman. He’s a smart guy. He’s always been there for his family. That’s all I know.”
Long before he allegedly shot and killed Jackson in 1997, Johnson played a significant role in one of Pasadena’s most notorious homicide cases: the fatal shooting of two 14-year-old boys and a 13-year-old boy in the 500 block of North Wilson Avenue on Halloween night in 1993.
Johnson implicated Aurelius Duane Bailey in the Halloween slayings before a grand jury and in interviews with Pasadena police detectives, however those statements were not admissible as evidence in court.
Johnson was later arrested in September of 2002 while driving a stolen truck in Duarte with Aurelius Duane Bailey, who was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading no contest to three counts of voluntary manslaughter and five counts of attempted murder for his role in the Halloween slayings.
The Halloween homicide, along with Jackson’s slaying and other violent incidents of the 1990s, helped spur the formation of the federally funded Community Law Enforcement and Recovery program, known as CLEAR, to combat gang violence in the Pasadena and Altadena areas.
Johnson was ultimately sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation after pleading no contest to the truck theft. Bailey received a six year prison sentence due to his previous criminal record.
According to county booking records, Johnson was being held in lieu of $2 million bail, while Evans was being held in lieu of $1.5 million.

PHOTOS of Darryl Jackson and Dominique Evans courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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