Body found in forest identified as missing West Covina dancer; murder suspect jailed

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AZUSA >> The body of a 27-year-old dancer reported missing in West Covina earlier this week was discovered along a forest road north of Azusa Saturday morning, authorities confirmed Sunday.
Rahkeem “Rocky” Reyes of West Covina disappeared Sept. 5.
Reyes’ car was found with its engine running and his wallet and laptop computer inside in the 1500 block of McWood Street in West Covina, causing family members to fear something had happened to him.
Their worst fears were confirmed Sunday, when police conformed the body was that of Reyes.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, along with the San Dimas Search and Rescue team, found the body about 10:15 a.m. Saturday along mile marker 2.5 of San Gabriel Canyon Road, in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives soon realized the body was related to the West Covina missing person case, and the investigation was turned over to the West Covina Police Department.
“West Covina Police have been involved in an intense investigation that started with the disappearance of Rahkeem Reyes six days ago,” West Covina police Lt. David Lee said. “Their investigation led them to the area in Azusa Canyon where his body was found.”
Meanwhile, investigators have arrested a man on suspicion of murder in connection with Reyes’ death.
0912_nws_sgt-l-reyes1West Covina police arrested Phillip Von Wade, 20, of West Covina during the early-morning hours Thursday, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Reyes, a professional dancer, was last known to be with Wade before he disappeared, Hampton said.
Information regarding the motive in the killing was not available Sunday. The relationship between the victim and suspect remained under investigation, Lee said.
Reyes, a professional dancer, was last known to be with Wade before he disappeared, Reyes’ girlfriend, Christina Oliver, said in an email.
Reyes had hired Wade to make a costume for him several months ago for between $700 and $900, but it was never completed, Oliver said.
Reyes went to Wade’s house in West Covina on the afternoon of Sept. 5 in order to be fitted for a portion of the costume, she said. She began looking for him when he never came home.
Oliver said her boyfriend had no enemies.
“There was no reason For anyone to be mad at Rocky,” Oliver said. “He is not gang related, he doesn’t do drugs, he doesn’t drink nor does he owe anyone money.”
Coroner’s investigators have yet to determine Reyes’ cause of death.
Wade was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Pomona branch.
Anyone with information was asked to contact West Covina police at 626-939-8500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTOS: [ABOVE] – Rahkeem “Rocky” Reyes, 27, of West Covina. (Courtesy) [BELOW] – Phillip Von Wade, 20, of West Covina. (Courtesy)

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Azusa teens accused of spray-painting graffiti on convenience store, homeless man in Covina


COVINA >> Police arrested three Azusa teens early Saturday on suspicion of spray-painting graffiti on the back wall of a convenience store, as well as on the homeless man who was sleeping there, officials said.
Bowilliam Rendon, 18, Irving Aguilar, 18, and a 17-year-old boy, all from Azusa, were booked on suspicion of felony vandalism following their arrests shortly after 12:30 a.m. outside 7-Eleven, 1275 W. San Bernardino Road, Covina police Sgt. Ryan Davis said.
An officer spotted the three young men next to a car parked behind the convenience store and approached them, the sergeant said. They were detained as they started to leave.
Police discovered an estimated $500 worth of vandalism damage in the form of black graffiti, Davis said.
A homeless man who was asleep nearby had also been scrawled with graffiti on his back and hands, the sergeant said. He remained asleep during the incident and was awakened by police after it occurred. He did not wish to press charges.
Police released the juvenile suspect to his parents with a written promise to appear in court, Davis said.
According to county booking records, Rendon and Aguilar were being held in lieu of $5,000 bail each pending their initial court appearances, scheduled Tuesday in the West Covina branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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Homicide detectives investigate death in forest north of Azusa

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Homicide detectives are investigating a death reported in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa Saturday morning, authorities said.
Few details were initially available regarding the death, which was first reported about 10:30 a.m. in the Azusa Canyon, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Sheriff’s officials described the location of the incident as mile-marker 2.5 of Azusa Avenue. However, Azusa avenue transitions into San Gabriel Canyon Road as it heads north into the mountains above the 210 Freeway.
Coroner’s officials joined detectives from the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau in the investigation, officials said.
No further details were released.
Anyone with information was 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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San Gabriel Valley cops crack down on DUI over holiday weekend; Azusa police invite public along online

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY >> Police throughout the region will be cracking down on drunken and drugged drivers with checkpoints and extra enforcement this Labor Day weekend, with one inviting the public to tag along virtually online.
Whittier, Montebello, Arcadia and Azusa police are each planning checkpoints in their respective cities Friday night into early Saturday, according to the departments.
In Azusa, police will be broadcasting their anti-DUI efforts and answering questions from the public online via Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, Officer Mike Bires said.
Azusa’s “Tweet from the Beat” will take place from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, he said. Follow along at www.facebook.com/AzusaPD, www.twitter.com/azusapd or www.snapchat.com/add/azusapd.
“(Officers will) explain what happens during a traffic stop, share accident investigation information and highlight traffic safety concerns for the city of Azusa,” Azusa police said in a written statement. “In addition to this, the community will be able to ask questions live, while the officers are in the field.
The checkpoints are being funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.

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Family still seeking answers 7 weeks after Azusa man disappears in the Angeles National Forest

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> The search continues for a father and husband from Azusa who mysteriously vanished in the Angeles National Forest in July.
Christopher Jay Poland, 40, disappeared July 14 after visiting family along East Fork Road in the Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
His car was found abandoned along the side of Glendora Ridge Road near mile marker 10 later the same day, Lt. Tamar Abraham of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau
Missing Person’s Detail. But Poland has not been seen or heard from since.
Family members have already searched the area near where Poland’s car was found, along with sheriff’s search and rescue team members, with no sign of the missing man, according to Poland’s mother, Donna Poland. The family is planning another small search party this weekend.
“It’s difficult, but we’re hanging in there,” she said. Christopher Poland has a wife and 14-year-old son.
ANFmapThe mother said she didn’t want to let the search lapse.
“I just want to keep it out there,” Donna Poland said.
One of the hardest parts of the situation is not knowing what happened to her son, she said.
“Dear God, please just bring him back. We will handle it if it’s bad news,” she said. “We’re going to find him.”
Christopher Poland’s car showed no signs of collision damage when it was found parked along the side of the road, Abraham said.
The car had apparently been hurriedly pulled to the side of the road, as it ended up facing the wrong direction in a turnout and parked partially on the roadway, the mother added.
And his car showed no signs of a mechanical problem, Donna Poland said. “It started right up.”
Poland had no diagnosed medical conditions, but had complained recently that he hadn’t been feeling well, his mother said.
Family had encouraged him to see a doctor due to recent bouts of forgetfulness, but he had yet to do so.
Donna Poland said she’d recently heard that there had been a report of a man seen acting strangely along Glendora Ridge Road on the same day her son went missing, but was awaiting further details from forest rangers.
Donna Poland said she’s been astonished by the outpouring of support the family has received so far.
“A lot of people, who we have no idea who they are, have been searching for him,” she said. “It’s been pretty darn wonderful.”
One man has been offering the use of his drone to aid in the search, and a friend has been searching the area on a dirt bike.
Christopher Poland grew up in Lake Arrowhead and is an experienced outdoorsman, his mother said. The family is holding out hope he will be found safe.
“We just don’t want to give up,” Donna Poland said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Abraham or Sgt. Nunez at the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Missing Person’s Detail at 323-890-5500.

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VIDEO: Do you recognize these Azusa auto theft suspects?


AZUSA >> Police are seeking the public’s help in tracking down a man and woman who they say stole a car from outside of an Azusa business last week.
The auto theft took place about 12:40 p.m. on Aug. 25 in the 200 block of East Newburgh Street, Azusa police said in a written statement. The suspects’ images, as well as the theft, were captured by surveillance cameras at an adjacent business.
•Video: Surveillance video Azusa captures auto theft suspects
Sgt. John Madaloni said the suspects snatched the car keys from inside a business before fleeing in the victim’s car.
0901_NWS_SGT-L-AZVIDEOstillThe footage shows two people chasing after the car to no avail as the suspects drive it away.
The male thief was described as a heavy-set Latino man of about 30 years old, with dark hair and tattoos on both arms and around his neckline. The word “circle” was tattooed on his left arm, along with a tattoo of an apple under his left elbow. He had a mustache and goatee and wore a light-colored shirt, long dark shorts and a dark baseball cap.
His female accomplice was described as a Latina woman in her late-20s or early-30s, with dark hair, possibly in a pony tail. She wore glasses, a dark shirt and dark pants.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Azusa police at 626-812-3200 regarding case 16-33232.

VIDEO/PHOTO courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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Bodies found in wake of San Gabriel Complex fires identified as missing cousins

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Coroner’s officials have confirmed that two scorched bodies found in the wake of the 5,400-acre San Gabriel Complex fire in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa in late June were those of a teenage hiker and his cousin, who had gone missing during a camping trip into area just hours before the fast-spreading fires ignited, authorities said.
The remains of Johnathan Adrian Pardo, 16, and Carlos Antonio Perez, 31, were first discovered about 2 p.m. June 7 along San Gabriel Canyon Road, just east of the Morris Dam, near the origin point of the Reservoir Fire, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials. Both were described as Los Angeles residents.
Worried family members reported Pardo and Perez missing on the evening of June 23, after they failed to return from the forest, Azusa police Sgt. Terry Smith said. Family reported they had gone camping and fishing in the forest on the morning of June 20, just hours before the Reservoir Fire ignited nearby at about 11 a.m. Less than two hours later, the Fish Fire also began tearing through brush in the area.
Searching for the missing cousins was limited as the wildfires continued to rage, officials said.
The remains were recovered from the forest June 8, the day after they were discovered.
Though officials and family members, some of whom joined officials in the search, suspected they knew who the bodies belonged to all along, official identification at the coroner’s office was delayed due to the charred condition of the remains.
Causes of death for both Pardo and Perez have not yet been determined, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
The Reservoir fire was sparked when a truck crashed off the side of the road, authorities said.
The driver of the truck, 53-year-old Michael Spengler, died in the crash, coroner’s officials said. An autopsy determined he died from multiple blunt force injuries and thermal burns. The death was ruled accidental.
The Reservoir fire, along with the Fish fire, which ignited just a few miles away the same day, became known as the San Gabriel Complex fires, which burned for more than a week before being fully contained.
More than 1,300 residents were evacuated as a result of the fire, but no structures were damaged or destroyed.

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Motorcyclist from Azusa killed in 210 Freeway crash


AZUSA >> An Azusa man died Saturday afternoon after a pickup truck rear-ended him on the 210 Freeway, triggering a chain-reaction crash, officials said.
Enrique Alvarado-Cervantes, 26, died in the crash, which took place about 1 p.m. on the eastbound 210 Freeway, just west of Vernon Avenue, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Joshua Duran.
He was riding a 2000 Suzuki GSX-R in the fast lane when traffic ahead came to a sudden stop, the officer said in a written statement.
A 71-year-old Alta Loma man was driving directly behind the motorcycle in a 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck. A 2000 Ford F-150 pickup truck was driving ahead of the motorcycle, lead by a 2011 Lexus IS 250.
“(The pickup truck driver) was unable to stop his Dodge in time to avoid a collision,” Duran said.
“The Dodge collided into the Suzuki motorcycle and Ford F-150 directly ahead, ejecting Alvarado-Cervantes onto the roadway,” Duran said. “The force of this collision pushed the Ford forward into the rear of the Lexus.”
Paramedics pronounced Alvarado-Cervantes dead at the scene.
The driver of the Dodge pickup that triggered the crash suffered injuries including a broken wrist, Duran said. The Ford driver suffered minor injuries, and the driver of the Lexus was unhurt.
No arrests were made as the investigation continued, officials said.
Authorities issued a Sig Alert for the carpool and three right-hand lanes of the eastbound 210 Freeway through nearly 5 p.m.
Any witnesses to the collision are encouraged to contact the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office at 626-338-1164.

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Man sought after vanishing in Angeles National Forest last month

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Sheriff’s officials asked the public’s help Thursday in finding a 40-year-old man who disappeared in the Angeles National Forest north of Glendora last month and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
Christopher Jay Poland, a Los Angeles County resident, was last seen about 2:30 a.m. on July 14 as he drove away from a relative’s home on East Fork Road, Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County sheriffs’ Information Bureau
“Later that same day, Mr. Poland’s vehicle was located on Glendora Ridge Road near mile marker 10,” Navarro-Suarez said.
“His family is very concerned and is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Mr. Poland,” she said.
Poland is 6 feet 2 inches tall, 220 pounds, with short blond hair and blue eyes. He has a scar below his chin; a tattoo of a tree on his right, lower leg; a tattoo of a starfish on his left elbow; and two Viking tattoos on his upper back.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sergeant Nunez or Detective Abraham of the sheriff’s Missing Persons Detail at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Video: Gunman sought in Azusa restaurant robbery


AZUSA >> Police are seeking gunman caught on video during a robbery at an Azusa restaurant last month.
The crime unfolded about 8:40 p.m. on July 13 at a restaurant in the area of Citrus and Alosta avenues , Azusa police Detective Seth Chapman said.
•Video: Azusa armed robbery
“The suspect pointed a black handgun and demanded the cash register’s money from the employees,” according to Azusa police Officer Mike Bires.
The employees complied, and the robber fled with about $500 in cash, he said.
Investigators released surveillance camera footage Wednesday in hopes of generating lead from the public.
Police described the robber a Latino man, about 6 feet tall and 230 bounds, with a “scruffy” beard. He wore a khaki hat, a blue jacket, khaki shorts and blue shoes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Azusa police Detective Seth Chapman at 626-812-3252. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

VIDEO courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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