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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Montebello police plan checkpoint this month

MONTEBELLO >> Police in Montebello are planning a to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint later this month, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Dec. 19 to 3 a.m. Dec. 20 at an undisclosed location within the city, MOnterey Park police officials said in a written statement.
Over the past three years in Monterey Park, eight people have died in DUI-related crashes, and 1,057 people have been injured, according to Sgt. Larry Jackson.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Man killed, woman hurt in Montebello motorcycle crash

MONTEBELLO >> A man died and a woman suffered serious injuries following a motorcycle crash in Montebello early Sunday, officials said.
The name of the man was not released pending notification of family, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Betsy Magdaleno said. He was initially described as a 19-year-old Montebello man.
A woman riding as a passenger on the motorcycle suffered serious injuries in the crash, but was expected to survive, Montebello police Lt. Mike Flores said. Her age and city of residence were not available.
The crash took place about 4:45 a.m. in the 400 block of East Avenida De La Merced, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
“Preliminary investigation reveals the motorcyclist was traveling eastbound on Avenida De Le Merced and lost control of the vehicle,” according to the police statement. “The motorcycle struck a curb and both the driver and passenger were ejected.”
Both the man and woman were taken to a hospital, where the man succumbed to his injuries, officials said.
The investigation was being handled by the Montebello Police Department’s Traffic Bureau.

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UPDATED: Crash blocks lanes on eastbound 60 Freeway in Montebello

MONTEBELLO >> A wreck forced the closure of all but the right-hand lane of the eastbound 60 Freeway in Montebello Friday afternoon, officials said.
The crash took place just before 2 p.m. on the eastbound 60 Freeway at Findlay Avenue, just east of Atlantic Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Jennifer Cassidy said.
The crash involved two vehicles and only minor injuries, Cassidy added. Further details were not available.
The CHP issued a Sig Alert for all but the right-hand lane of the eastbound 60 Freeway as officers and firefighters worked at the scene. All traffic lanes were cleared at 3:43 p.m.

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Elderly Montebello man found sane during wife’s slaying

LOS ANGELES >> A Los Angeles jury ruled Wednesday that an elderly Montebello man was sane when he strangled his wife at the couple’s Montebello apartment in 2012, officials said.
The jury convicted Baghdo Hayrapetyan, 75, of second-degree murder Oct. 30 for the March 5, 2012, death of 63-year-old Anahit Hayrapetyan at an apartment in the 2000 block of West Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. But the Baghdo Hayrapetyan maintained that he was not guilty by reason of insanity.
The same jury found Wednesday that the convict was sane when he killed his wife during an argument, officials said.
Baghdo Hayrapetyan is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court Feb. 10 to be sentenced by Judge Sam Ohta, district attorney’s officials said. He faces 15 years to life in state prison.
The convicted killer was being held without bail in the meantime at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles.
Family members found the body of Anahit Hayrapetyan, along with and unconscious and bleeding Baghdo Hayrapetyan at their apartment, Lt. Ed Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. Detectives determined the man’s severe stab wounds were self-inflicted.

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Man accused of kidnapping, raping Monterey Park woman; victim escaped by jumping from moving car on freeway in El Monte

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MONTEREY PARK >> A task force arrested a man Tuesday in East Los Angeles whom Monterey Park police had been seeking for kidnapping, raping and assaulting his ex-girlfriend last week, authorities said.
The terrified victim may have saved her own life by jumping from a moving car on the 60 Freeway in El Monte on Oct. 28, the day after she was kidnapped at gunpoint by ex-boyfriend Benny Torres, 29, Monterey Park police Lt. Bill Cuevas said. Torres’ last listed address was in Montebello, though he was believed to have most recently been transient.
The woman, a Monterey Park resident in her 20s, was treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries she suffered at the hands of her captor, as well as in her escape, Cuevas said.
“She bravely, by her actions, basically saved her own life.”
Prosecutors Wednesday filed 11 felony charges against Torres, according to a felony complaint filed in Alhambra Superior Court.
The charges include kidnapping, two counts of rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by a foreign object, two counts of making criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapons, assault with a firearm, burglary and false imprisonment.
The victim had recently broken up with Torres amid allegations that he had assaulted her in an incident of domestic violence in Montebello, Cuevas said.
Torres arranged to meet his ex-girlfriend on the afternoon of Oct. 27 in Los Angeles, Cuevas said.
But when she arrived, Torres pulled a handgun, got into her car and ordered her to start driving, officials said.
The attacker eventually took the wheel of the woman’s car himself and drove her to a motel in El Monte, where he held her captive overnight, the lieutenant said.
“The victim was both sexually and physically abused,” Cuevas said.
Torres ordered the woman back into her car the following morning and began driving her somewhere, police said. The woman did not know where Torres was taking her.
“The victim was in fear for her life,” Cuevas said.
As the car travelled down the 60 Freeway, near the 605 Freeway in El Monte, the woman saw an opportunity to escape.
“At one point, while they were driving, she was able to jump out of the vehicle,” Cuevas said.
It was unclear how fast the car was driving when she leapt.
A good Samaritan found the woman wandering in the area and took her to a hospital, officials said. The hospital notified authorities once they determined the woman had been the victim of an attack.
The woman suffered injuries both at the hands of Torres, as well as when she jumped from the moving car, Cuevas said. She had since been treated and released from an area hospital.
Detectives began hunting for Torres with help from the West San Gabriel Anti Crime Task Force, which is made up of officers from the Monterey Park, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, El Monte police departments, as well as officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Probation, task force coordinator and Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said.
Task force members found and arrested Torres about 1:40 p.m. Tuesday at a relative’s home in the 4000 block of E. 2nd Street in East Los Angeles, according to officials and booking records. Officers arrested him without a struggle.
Torres entered no plea at an appearance Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court, court officials said. His arraignment hearing was postponed to Nov. 24.
If convicted as charged, Torres could face life in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Torres remained behind bars Wednesday at the Monterey Park Police Department’s jail in lieu of $2.35 million bail, officials said.

PHOTO of Benny Torres, 29, courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department.

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UPDATED: Whittier motorcyclist killed in Montebello hit-and-run

MONTEBELLO >> A 28-year-old Whittier man died Friday after his motorcycle was rear-ended by a hit-and-run car on Washington Boulevard and crashed into a pole, officials said.
The crash took place about 4:45 p.m. on Washington Boulevard and Bluff Road, Montebello police officials said.
Both the motorcycle and the tan, four-door car were headed east on Washington Boulevard “at a high rate of speed” just prior to the collision, police said in a written statement.
“The tan vehicle collided into the rear of the motorcyclist, causing the motorcyclist to collide into a pole,” the police statement said.
“The motorcyclist succumbed to his injuries at the scene,” according to the statement. “The tan vehicle fled the scene eastbound into Pico Rivera out if sight.”
No further details were released.
Police shut down Both directions of Washington Boulevard between Paramount and Montebello boulevards as they investigated the scene.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Montebello police at 323-887-1313.
The hit-and-run was the second fatal crash within less than 24 hours in Montebello.
A man died late Thursday after the car he was riding as a passenger in crashed into a tree about 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the 300 block of North Montebello Boulevard, Montebello police Lt. Kelly Gordon said.
The driver of the car, described only as a woman, was hospitalized in critical condition following the crash.

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Mother fatally struck by pickup truck while crossing street with children in Montebello

MONTEBELLO >> A woman died Wednesday after she was struck by a pickup truck while crossing Garfield Avenue in Montebello with her children late Wednesday, officials said.
The two children, ages 5 and 9, were hospitalized with injuries not initially believed to be life threatening, Montebello police Lt. Michael Bergman said.
The collision took place just after 8:20 p.m. in the 400 block of North Garfield Avenue, just north of Madison Avenue, the lieutenant said.
The woman and children were crossing the street mid-block when they were struck, Bergman said. They were not within a crosswalk.
Officials took the woman and two children to a hospital, where the woman succumbed to her injuries a short time later, Bergman said. An update on the children’s conditions was not available.
The driver of the pickup truck remained at the scene and was cooperating with investigators, Bergman said. There were no obvious signs of a crime at the scene, however the investigation remained in its early stages.
Anyone with information can reach Montebello police at 323-887-1313.

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Man seriously injured in Montebello crash

MONTEBELLO >> A solo-car crash sent a driver to the hospital with serious injuries and blocked eastbound traffic on Via Campo Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The crash was reported at 2:07 p.m. in the westbound lanes of Via Campos, between Garfield and Wilcox avenues, Montebello police Lt. Mike Flores said.
A man in his 30s was at the wheel of a Honda Civic when it veered off the right side of the road for an unknown reason and struck a power pole, the lieutenant said. “He has severe head injuries,” Flores said.
Rescuers took the injured man to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, he said.
The eastbound lanes of Via Campo were shut down for an unknown amount of time as Southern California Edison crews worked to repair the damage to the utility pole.
The crash was under investigation by the Montebello Police Department.

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Suspect jailed in connection with fatal Montebello shooting

A suspect is behind bars in connection with the fatal shooting of a Montebello man earlier this month, authorities said.
Montebello police investigators arrested Michael Joseph Fimbres, 44, of Montebello Wednesday in Pomona, according to Montebello police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was being held in lieu of $35,000 bail on a lesser felony charge Friday at the Montebello Police Department’s jail pending an expected murder charge, officials said. The date of his next court date was not available late Friday.
He’s accused of the July 1 fatal shooting of 35-year-old Frank Burnell Taylor of Montebello, who was found mortally wounded in the 500 block of Maple Street about 7:15 p.m., police and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner’s officials said. Taylor was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detectives began seeking Fimbres after identifying early in the investigation as a suspect in Taylor’s slaying, Montebello police Sgt. Julio Calleros said. They had been keeping Fimbres under surveillance when they stopped a car he was in and arrested without incident about noon Wednesday on Fairplex Drive near the 10 Freeway in Pomona.
The suspect and victim were not strangers to one another, though the nature of their relationship was not certain, Calleros said.
“They were acquainted. They knew each other,” he said.
Calleros said the fatal shooting was believed to have been motivated by a “personal dispute.” He declined to discuss the dispute between the men in further detail.
Taylor was walking along Maple Street when an attacker, later identified as Fimbres, approached in small pickup truck, Lt. Andy Vuncanon said.
Fimbres exited the truck, approached Taylor, pulled a handgun and shot the victim once in the chest, the lieutenant said.

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