NORWALK >> Deputies checking on a report of a suspicious van discovered the body of a man inside the vehicle in the parking lot of a Norwalk clothing store Friday, officials said.
The discovery was made shortly after 5 p.m. in a van parked outside T.J. Maxx, at Firestone and Pioneer boulevards, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said.
A witness called authorities to report that a van had been parked in the lot for several days and was emitting a foul odor, the lieutenant said.
Deputies opened the van to discover the body of man in the rear portion, he said. It initially appeared the man may have been living out of the van.
Homicide detectives responded to the scene to take over the investigation, Smitson said. It was not initially clear whether or not the death may have involved foul play.
Anyone with information can reach the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
NORWALK >> A man accused of sexually assaulting and fatally stabbing his disabled neighbor in Norwalk before fleeing to Guatemala returned to the U.S. Friday to face charges, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 22, was extradited back to Los Angeles County via LAX following his Dec. 4 arrest in San Miguel, Escuinta, Guatemala, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Diofron is suspected in the brutal stabbing death of 50-year-old Denise Battey Aug. 10, 2012, at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials
He’s charged with murder, with the special circumstances of rape and burglary, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
After Diofron allegedly fled the country, federal authorities also charged the suspect with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. But the federal case is expected to be dismissed as the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the murder case.
Diofron, who was living near Battey while in the U.S. on a work visa, attacked and sexually assaulted Battery as she watered her garden, according to sheriff’s officials and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
He then dragged her inside her home and stabbed her to death, authorities allege.
Denise Battey worked as a system support analyst for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students in college preparation part time, according to her twin sister, Annese Battey. She was an avid gardener and a classic movie buff.
And the victim was defenseless against her attacker, authorities and family members said. She had just undergone back surgery and suffered from severe sciatica in her left leg.
Diofron was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
PHOTOS: TOP: Murder suspect Luis Fernando Diofron (courtesy). BELOW: Homicide victim Denise Battey (courtesy)
NORWALK >> A gunman fled with cash and cell phones after robbing a Rosecrans Avenue wireless store Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The robber showed up about 3:30 p.m. at Cricket Wireless, 11617 Rosecrans Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Shawn Kehoe said.
He brandished a handgun as he stole cash from the store’s register, as well as cell phones, Kehoe said. The robber ordered the two employees into the store’s bathroom before fleeing.
The robber was last seen leaving the store on foot, the lieutenant said. A detailed suspect description was not available.
NORWALK >> Detectives are seeking a party bus that struck a Norwalk man and dragged him more than 200 feet before fleeing the scene early Saturday, officials said.
Efren Virgen, 26, was crossing Fairford Avenue, just south of Ratcliffe Street, about 2:30 a.m. when he was struck by southbound bus, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“The victim was dragged by the vehicle for over 200 feet and suffered major injuries,” Detective Carl Anna said in a written statement.
Rescuers took Virgen to a hospital, where he was in critical-but-stable condition in an intensive care unit Saturday afternoon, Lt. Eric Smitson said.
A witnesses described the bus as a black party bus of the type rented out by groups for special occasions, the detective said. “As the suspect’s vehicle drove past the witnesses, he saw that the interior neon lights were flashing, and heard music coming from inside.”
The bus was last seen heading west on Foster Road, Anna said.
“We are looking for witnesses to come forward that were either on the above ‘party bus,’ or have knowledge of any similar vehicle that may have been in the Norwalk area at or near the indicated time,” Anna said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
NORWALK >> Sheriff’s deputies will screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses Thursday during a nighttime checkpoint, officials said.
The checkpoint will take place between 6 p.m. Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. The location of the checkpoint has not been disclosed.
Over the past three years in the cities and unincorporated areas patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, “DUI collisions have claimed 22 lives and resulted in 898 injury crashes harming 1,330 of our friends and neighbors,” Sgt. Daniel Dail of the Traffic Services Detail said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NORWALK >> Authorities arrested a man in Guatemala early Thursday in connection with the brutal stabbing death of a 50-year-old woman at her Norwalk home in 2012, officials and the victim’s sister said.
Luis Diofron, 22, is accused of sexually assaulting and fatally stabbing Denise Battey in the early-morning hours of Aug. 10, 2012, at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and Battey’s twin sister, Annese Battey.
Investigators recently received a tip that Diofron, whom they had been seeking for more than two years, had been spotted near Guatemala City, Detective Ray Lugo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. Guatemalan police, along with FBI agents, arrested the alleged killer without a struggle Thursday morning.
Annese Battey said she was notified of the arrest Thursday morning.
“My family is just ecstatic,” she said. But the sense of justice that came with the arrest was accompanied by many painful memories.
“It’s bitter-sweet,” she said. “Everyone is breaking down. This is a day you just hope and wish for.”
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PHOTOS of Denise Battey, above, and Luis Diofron, below. (Courtesy)
NORWALK >> A pleaded “no contest” to a voluntary manslaughter charge Tuesday for fatally shooting another man during a dispute confrontation in early 2013, officials said.
A judge immediately sentenced Andrew Ramos, 29, of Norwalk to six years in state prison after he entered his plea in Norwalk Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Prosecutors initially charged Ramos with murder for the Jan. 2, 2013, fatal shooting of 32-year-old Jimmy Deleon Hernandez of Norwalk in the 14000 block of Gard Avenue in Norwalk, Ardalani said.
In a negotiated plea, Ramos entered a “no contest” plea to a single felony charge of voluntary manslaughter, she said.
Officials described Ramos and Hernandez as rival gang members. The shooting took place after Hernandez confronted Ramos at a Norwalk home.
“(Hernandez) confronted Ramos while he was on the porch,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “The two men had an exchange and Ramos shot Hernandez several times.”
Hernandez succumbed to his injuries at a hospital.
“An eyewitness account linked Ramos to the crime and he was arrested a week later in connection with the killing,” the statement said.
NORWALK >> A Downey man pleaded no contest Wednesday to fatally stabbing a Long Beach man during a dispute at a Norwalk home earlier this year, authorities said.
William Edward Johnson, 38, entered a “no contest” plea in Norwalk Superior Court to a count of voluntary manslaughter for the March 4 stabbing death of 53-year-old Darin Sivley, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. Johnson also admitted the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the crime.
Under the negotiated plea arrangement, Johnson is expected to receive a 12-year prison term when he returned to court for sentencing Monday, Ardalani said. He had originally been charged with murder prior to the plea deal.
Sivley was found fatally wounded on along the road near Studebaker Road and Ferina Street shortly before 3 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
But the stabbing took a place while both Johnson and Sivley were at the home of a mutual acquaintance nearby, according to sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials.
“While there, Sivley began to irritate the homeowner, who wanted him to leave,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “As a result, Johnson pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim in the upper arm. The puncture severed a major artery and Sivley began to bleed profusely.”
Someone at the home place a tourniquet on Sivley’s wound before Sivley got on a bicycle to go to a hospital, officials said. But soon collapsed and bled to death.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau arrested Sivley in connection with the fatal stabbing two days later.
NORWALK >> Paramedics rushed a wounded man to a trauma center after he was stabbed late Friday at a Norwalk hotel, officials said.
The stabbing was first reported about 8:20 p.m. at the Guesthouse Hotel, 12500 Firestone Blvd., according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire officials.
Someone brought the wounded man to Norwalk Hospital by private vehicle, sheriff’s Lt. Daniel Gillespie said. Medical staff there determined the victim needed to be transferred to a trauma center.
The victim suffered major injuries including a punctured lung but was expected to survive, Gillespie said.
Deputies sought two male suspects possibly seen running from the area, the lieutenant said. One was believed to be armed with a pocket knife, and the other with a large hunting knife. No further description was available.
The investigation remained in its early stages, however it initially appeared the man was inside a room at the hotel when some sort of fight erupted, he said.
No further details were available.
NORWALK >> Gunfire at a Norwalk park left one man dead early Saturday, authorities said.
The fatal shooting took place about 6:20 a.m. at Arthur Gerdes Park, 14700 Gridley Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares said.
Deputies responded to several calls reporting gunshots and a “victim down” when they encountered a man in his 20s who had been shot, the sergeant said.
Paramedics rushed the wounded man to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, Navares said.
No suspects were in custody, and no suspect description was immediately available.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are handling the investigation. Anyone with information can reacht he bureau at 323-890-5500.