HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Coroner’s officials have identified an elderly woman who was found stabbed to death inside her Hacienda Heights home along with a yet-unidentified man.
June Collins, 84, and the unidentified male victim were discovered dead on the afternoon of Oct. 7 inside Collins’ home in the 16600 block of Carriage Place in Hacienda Heights.
An autopsy determined both victims had been stabbed to death, and both deaths have been ruled homicides, Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said Wednesday.
The second victim, described only as a man, remained listed at the coroner’s office as John Doe.
When found by deputies asked to check on the elderly resident, both bodies were already well into the stages of decomposition, slowing the investigation, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said investigators the slayings occurred about a week before the victims were discovered.
No suspects had been identified Wednesday in connection with the mysterious double-homicide, and the motive remained unclear. But detectives continued gathering clues.
“It’s moving forward. Slowly, but it’s moving forward,” Corina said.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, the lieutenant said. But inside, “There were signs of struggle.”
It was unclear what type of sharp weapon was used in the killings, Corina said.
Robbery was not believed to the motive, investigators said.
Collin’s Toyota Corolla was discovered missing from her home. It was found the following afternoon, abandoned in the 12100 block of Magnolia Street in El Monte, according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Detectives continue looking into how the car ended up in El Monte, Corina said, and the car was being examined by crime lab investigators.
The identity of the man found dead along with Collins remains a mystery.
Detectives had not yet linked any missing persons’ cases to the double-homicide investigation, Corina said.
Many people would often come and go from the home, he said.
Collins had a son who was in jail at the time of the killings in connection with an elder abuse case, officials said. Collins had a restraining order against him.
Officials and neighbors said deputies had responded to the home several times in the past to deal with her the son when he lived there,.
Associates of the son, including drug addicts, continued to show up even after the son was jailed, sometimes staying there, authorities said.
Capt. Tim Murakami of the sheriff’s Industry Station said the elderly woman had dementia, which the frequent visitors appeared to be taking advantage of.
Because of the ongoing issues at the home, deputies would regularly checked on Collins, the captain said.
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.
PHOTO of June Collins, 84, of Hacienda Heights courtesy of the California DMV.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Homicide detectives are investigating the apparent slayings of an elderly woman and a man who were found dead inside a Hacienda Heights home Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
Deputies found the bodies about 4:15 p.m. in the 16600 block Carriage Place, according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
They had been asked to “check the welfare” of the resident of the home, sheriff’s Lt. David Infante said. The 84-year-old woman had not been seen in about a week, officials added.
Deputies smelled a “strong odor of decomposition” and forced their way into the home, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“The victims were found in separate rooms and were in advance stages of decomposition,” according to the statement. “Both victims appeared to have been assaulted.”
The identities of the victims were yet to be confirmed, however investigators believed the woman to be the elderly homeowner, sheriff’s officials said. The identity of the man was unknown.
“The victim lives with her adult son, but he is currently in custody and was not home at the time of the incident,” the sheriff’s department statement said.
“The cause of death is unknown at this time,” Rouzan said.
Detectives discovered the homeowner’s car was missing. The beige, 2001, four-door Toyota Camry, with a California license plate of 7LXV190, was being treated as a stolen vehicle.
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.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> An overturned big rig prompted the closure of all but one lane of the eastbound 60 Freeway Wednesday evening, officials said.
The 9:08 p.m. crash on the eastbound 60 Freeway, just west of Azusa Avenue, involved only one big rig and resulted in no injuries, but snarled traffic as the overturned truck blocked the three right-hand lanes, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
A Sig Alert was issued for an unknown duration.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Deputies dismantled a “honey oil” lab in a Hacienda Heights home and detained a possible suspect Wednesday, officials said.
The bust took place about 4 p.m. at a house in the 16800 block of Twin Hill Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Tubbs said.
Deputies found an operation in which concentrated cannabis oil, also known as “honey oil,” was being extracted from marijuana, the lieutenant said.
One person was being detained as the investigation continued Wednesday night.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department hazardous materials crew stood by as a precaution due to butane and other chemicals used in the illicit process, Tubbs said.
LOS ANGELES >> A federal grand jury Thursday indicted a Rowland Heights woman, a former Hacienda Heights couple and two other defendants who are accused of running a $30 million pyramid scheme targeting Chinese communities on both coasts, authorities said Friday.
Wen Chen “Wendy” Lee, 53, of Rowland Heights; Cheong Wha “Heywood” Chang, 47, of Taiwan and a former resident of Hacienda Heights; Chang’s wife Toni Chen, 46; Dalian “David” Guo, 53, of Hyde Park, New York; and Chih Hsuan “Kiki” Lin, 50, of Los Angeles and La Vegas are each charged with 13 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
The five operated a Hong Kong-based company known as CKB, WIN169 Biz Solutions Ltd., CKB168 Ltd. and Cyber Kid Best Education Limited, officials said.
The company purported to run a profitable business selling online educational courses for children, “but in reality was a pyramid scheme designed to generate new revenue by adding new investors,” Mrozek said.
Prosecutors allege the defendants collected about $30 million from investors, primarily in Chinese-American communities in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City between 2011 and 2014. They kept about $6.5 million of the money for themselves and transferred the rest to others involved in the scheme, according to the indictment.
“We believe that over 1,000 people invested in CKB, though it is unclear how many of those people invested directly through the defendants charged in this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Goorvich said.
To lure investors into the scam, the defendants made numerous false promises and statements about CKB, which was not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, authorities said.
All five defendants are expected to appear in court to enter pleas next month, Mrozek said. They were arrested earlier this month following the filing of a sealed criminal complaint, Mrozek said.
Lin, who is also accused in the indictment of threatening victims in order to collect funds and dissuade them from talking to authorities, is being held without bond, while the others have been freed on bonds ranging from $250,000 to $500,000. If convicted as charged, each defendant faces up to 265 years in federal prison.
LOS ANGELES >> A Hacienda Heights man accused of laundering drug money through nightclubs he owns in Pico Rivera and Moreno Valley has agreed to plead guilty to a charge that could send him to prison for 25 years, according to authorities and court documents.
Edgar De Dios Fragoso, 38, has agreed to enter a guilty to a single federal charge of money laundering, according to a plea agreement filed Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles.
Under the plea arrangement, six additional counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy are to be dismissed, according to the document.
Fragoso pleaded not guilty to the eight-count federal indictment in March.
A hearing at which Fragoso will formally change his plea was yet to be scheduled, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
Fragoso is expected to receive a sentence of 25 years in federal prison, court records show.
He also agreed to forfeit his liquor license, Mrozek said.
“This brings some amount of closure to the case,” he said.
Prosecutors allege Fragoso laundered more than $35,000 in U.S. proceeds from methamphetamine sales on behalf of a drug dealer operating out of Mexico, and also collected $200,000 in payments from undercover federal agents posing as representatives of a drug-trafficking organization, according to the indictment.
Fragoso, who was arrested Feb. 23, is free on a $100,000 bond.
POMONA >> A West Covina man received an eight-year prison sentenced Friday after admitting an arson spree targeting six San Gabriel Valley businesses late last year and early this year, officials said.
During what was scheduled to be a pretrial hearing in Pomona Superior Court, David Lin, 43, pleaded “no contest” Friday to five counts of arson of property and one count of arson of an inhabited structure, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. The outcome was the result of a negotiated plea arrangement.
Judge Salvatore Sirna sentenced Lin to eight years in state prison and ordered him to register as an arson offender for life, officials said.
Lin was arrested Feb. 3 after investigators linked him to a series of seven arson fires that ignited primarily inside the bathrooms of San Gabriel Valley businesses since December, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. John Hanson said at the time. No one was injured in the fires, at least one of which caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.
The fires were reported in December at the Guppy House restaurant in Hacienda Heights, as well as the Rolling Wok restaurant in Rowland Heights.
Two more similar fires broke out in January at L & L Hawaiian Barbecue in Walnut and at Office Depot in Rowland Heights, investigators said. The final three fires were reported the day of Lin’s arrest at a McDonalds, a Del Taco and Ten Ren’s Tea Time, all in Rowland Heights.
A motive for the bizarre crime spree was not clear, prosecutors said. Officials described Lin as a former West Covina resident who had been living in his car at the time of the arsons.
PHOTO of Davin Lin courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Officials arrested a mother and daughter from Pomona on Saturday in connection with a Hacienda Heights residential burglary earlier in the day.
Deana Stanley, 48, and daughter Maria Tucker, 30, were booked on suspicion of burglary, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools and conspiracy to commit burglary, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Gannon said. Ticker was additionally accused of possession of counterfeit credit or access cards.
A witness called deputies about 8:35 p.m. to report seeing intruders inside a neighbor’s home in the 1500 block of Flamstead Drive, Gannon said. The burglars were gone when deputies arrived, but the tipster was able to provide them with a description of the burglars’ car, the lieutenant said.
Pomona police found the car Saturday afternoon parked outside a home on Gordon Street in Pomona, Gannon said.
Deputies arrested the two women and served a search warrant at their home, he said. Officials recovered all of the jewelry and other items stolen in the Hacienda Heights break-in, and also seized a handgun.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Tips from the public helped investigators identify and arrest a suspect they say has stolen more than $30,000 in collections from churches and a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights, officials said.
Deputies arrested Carolos Montiel, 36, of Hacienda Heights about 9 p.m. at a home in the 3400 block of Glenmark Drive, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Infante.
Over a period spanning more than a year, he’s burglarized two churches and a Buddhist temple, making off with more than $30,000 from the collection boxes, Detective Charell Heard said.
Though he remained unidentified, investigators had his picture from surveillance cameras. Detectives released those imaged to the public Wednesday in hopes that someone would recognize and report the suspect.
Less than a day later, investigators had a name.
“Shortly after the interview and the suspect’s photograph were televised and posted on media web sites, anonymous community members identified the suspect as Hacienda Heights resident Carlos Montiel,” Infante said in a written statement.
After confirming Montiel as their suspect, deputies set up a surveillance and arrested him without a struggle Thursday evening, Infante said.
Detectives are asking the public’s help in identifying a serial burglary suspect they say has stolen more than $30,000 in collections from two churches and a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights over the past two years.
The burglar has targeted collection boxes in each of the capers, Detective Charell Heard. She declined to discuss the specific dates and locations of the crimes as the investigation continued, but said that more than $30,000 in cash had been stolen in all.
The burglaries took place during daytime hours while the houses of worship were open to the public, officials said.
Officials described the burglar as a Latino man with “tribal band” tattoos on both of his legs and large tattoos on both his arms.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Heard at 626-330-3322.
PHOTOS courtesy if the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department