A former international fugitive will spend the rest of his life in prison for stabbing a 50-year-old disabled neighbor to death inside her Pico Rivera home in 2012, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Aug. 10, 2012 slaying of Denise Battey at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
He pleaded guilty to one count of murder on June 29. He also admitted to the special circumstance that the murder was done during the commission of a burglary, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the slaying.
“Lemus broke into his neighbor’s Norwalk home and fatally stabbed the 50-year-old woman,” Ardalani said.
Diofron was also initially accused of murder during the coarse of a rape, but the rape allegation was dismissed under a negotiated plea arrangement, officials said.
The killer, a Guatemalan national, was in the United States on a work visa and living next door to Battey at the time of the slaying, sheriff’s officials said.
He attacked her as she watered here garden, then dragged her inside her home where he stabbed her to death, according to investigators.
Diofron then fled to Guatemala, where he remained for two years before being captured in late-2014 and extradited back to California to face justice.
Battey worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students on college preparation in her spare time, family members said. A recent back surgery, as well as severe sciatica in one of her legs, left her defenseless.
PHOTOS: Convicted murderer Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, (left) and victim Denise Battey, 50, of Norwalk (right). [Courtesy]
NORWALK >> A former international fugitive admitted on Thursday breaking into the home of his then-neighbor in Norwalk stabbing the 50-year-old disabled woman to death in 2012, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, was captured in Guatemala two years after the Aug. 10, 2012, slaying of Denise Battey in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
After nearly three more years awaiting trial, Difron pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree murder, along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a burglary, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the murder, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
Prosecutors initially accused Diofron of the additional special circumstance of murder during the commission of a rape. Under Thursday’s negotiated plea arrangement, the allegation of sexual assault was dismissed.
“(Diofron) broke into his neighbor’s home and fatally stabbed the 50-year-old woman,” Santiago said in a written statement. “Following the killing, the defendant fled to Guatemala where he remained for several years. (He) was located in December 2014 and extradited to Los Angeles County four months later.”
Diofron is expected to be receive a life term in prison without the possibility of parole when he returns to the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on July 19, Santiago said.
Diofron was living next-door to his victim while staying in the U.S. on a work visa, Detective Ray Lugo of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said shortly after his capture.
He attacked Denise Battey as she watered her garden during the early-morning hours, like she did every morning, according to investigators and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
Difron then dragged Denise Battey inside her home, where he stabbed her to death, officials said.
He then fled to his native Guatemala.
But detectives received a tip in late 2014 that the killer had been spotted near Guatemala City, Lugo said. Sheriff’s detectives, aided by Guatemalan police and the FBI, arrested Diofron without a struggle on Dec. 4, 2014. He was extradited back to the Los Angeles County to face justice four months later.
The victim was defenseless from her attacker, having just undergone back surgery and suffering from severe sciatica in her one of her legs.
Denise Battery worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students on college preparation in her spare time, Annese Battery said. She was a fan of classic cinema and was known for handing out her homegrown tomatoes in her neighborhood.
Denise Battey dreamed of one day having a small home or condominium on the back, her sister said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, [LEFT] pleaded guilty on Thursday, June 29, 2017 to the murder of neighbor Denise Battery, 50, of Norwalk [RIGHT] on Aug. 10, 2012. Difron was captured in his antive Guatemala two years after the murder. (Courtesy)
The last of 13 defendants charged in connection with an alleged La Mirada-based credit card skimming and drug trafficking ring has been captured in Orange County, authorities announced Friday.
Lloyd Luis Leyh, of Huntington Beach, was apprehended Thursday in Orange, FBI officials announced via Twitter. Details of his arrest were not available.
He joined a dozen other suspects already in custody in connection with the federal 27-count indictment announced last month.
The suspects — many of which have ties to La Mirada- and Norwalk-area street gangs, such as the La Mirada Punks, the Carmelas and the Nazi Low Riders — are accused of using credit card skimming machines to steal the information from more than 500 credit cards, according to U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek. Many of the credit card numbers were obtained at a Huntington Beach restaurant.
Prosecutors allege the ring then made expensive purchases, then returned to items to stores for cash, netting more than $500,000.
Three of the defendants are also accused of methamphetamine trafficking, and one is charged with weapons violations.
Federal officials said the investigation has been ongoing for more than two years.
PHOTO courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice
NORWALK >> A 71-year-old pedestrian died after an SUV veered off the side of the 605 Freeway in Norwalk and struck her as she sat on a dirt median on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
Pauline M. Widuschek died in the 4:22 p.m. crash along the southbound 605 Freeway at Firestone Boulevard, Officer J. Farner of the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs area office said in a written statement.
A 62-year-old Lynwood man was traveling south in the right-hand lane, at an unknown speed, when his 1998 Toyota 4-Runner veered toward the right side of the roadway, the officer said.
The 4-Runner went over an asphalt berm along the right shoulder, then struck a tree before striking Widuschek, who was sitting on a dirt median separating 605 Freeway traffic lanes from the Firestone Boulevard offramp, according to Farner. The woman died at the scene.
The SUV continued until it plowed through a chain-link fence at the bottom of the Firestone Boulevard offramp, then collided with a 1999 GMC Yukon heading west on Firestone Boulevard, Farner said.
The driver of the 4-Runner was treated for injuries described as “moderate,” Farner said. A Lynwood woman who was at the wheel of the Yukon was unhurt.
No arrests had been made as the investigation continued.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information, can reach the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office at 562-868-0503.
One man died and several other people were wounded in a string of shootings in the Whittier, La Mirada and Norwalk areas on Saturday afternoon which were believed to linked to the same carjacked car, authorities said.
The attacks took place beginning about 3:30 p.m. in the jurisdictions of the Whittier Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Norwalk Station, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials. A man died at a hospital following one of the shootings in La Mirada, officials said.
The series of crimes was believed to have begun with the carjacking of a dark green or black Nissan Pathfinder SUV in the Pico Rivera area about 3 p.m., officials said.
The vehicle was occupied by a man and a woman, both armed with guns, when it pulled through the rear alley of a Starbucks coffee shop at Whittier Boulevard and Colima Road about 3:30 p.m., Whittier police Lt. Brian Ellis said. A man in his 50s was walking in the alley.
“The suspects pulled up to him and shot him in the leg,” Ellis said. The victim was treated for injuries not believed to be life threatening.
There was no apparent motive for the attack, which appeared to be random, he said.
The SUV then headed south on Colima Road, where the attackers opened fire on another car at Colima Road and Lambert Road, according to Ellis. The victim’s car was struck, but no one inside was injured.
The SUV was last seen heading west on Lambert Road following the car-to-car shooting.
The same SUV is believed to be linked to a fatal shooting about 30 minutes later in La Mirada, Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
A man was shot and mortally wounded about 4 p.m. at Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Alicante Road, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“The victim was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead,” according to the statement.
Deputies were also looking into possible additional shootings.
“There are additional shootings in the surrounding areas involving multiple victims,” the sheriff’s department statement said. “The number of victims, as well as their conditions are unknown at this time. There is no additional information available at this time, and the investigation is ongoing.”
Deputies found the SUV believed to have been used in the shootings parked, unoccupied, at Mayberry Park in South Whittier shortly after 6 p.m., officials said. But the suspects remained at large.
The spate of violence followed another shooting in unincorporated South Whittier early Saturday afternoon in which a man was wounded.
A man was shot in the leg about 12:45 p.m. along Carmenita Road, just north of Telegraph Road, sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Nevarez said.
It was unclear whether the earlier afternoon shooting had any connection to the spate of shootings that occurred later in the afternoon.
Anyone with information can reach 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.
NORWALK >> Detectives are seeking the killer or killers of a 50-year-old man who was gunned down while soliciting charity donations in a residential Norwalk neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.
The fatal shooting took place about 5:30 p.m. in the 14400 block of Dinard Avenue, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Information Bureau.
“Detectives have learned that the victim was shot and killed while walking down the street going door-to-door soliciting to paint addresses on the curb-lines,” Schrader said in a written statement.
The man was wounded several times in the “upper torso,” Schrader said Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Coroner’s officials did not formally identify the victim on Wednesday, however officials at the charity for which the man was working when he was shot identified him as Matthew Douglas Glover, 50, of Long Beach.
“Homicide detectives are actively searching for two male Hispanics in their early-20sm, driving a late-model, four-door, white sedan,” Deputy Carolina Rodriguez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said. “Homicide detectives and the victim’s family are asking the public’s assistance in obtaining any information that will help solve this crime.”
The circumstances of the shooting remains a mystery.
Glover was collecting donations for the Whittier-based charity Care For The Children, according to organization director and founder, Robert Henderson.
Henderson said he’d been working with Glover on-and-off for the past 14 years, even before Care For The Children began in it’s current form in 2006. Glover moved back to Southern California, where he grew up, about two weeks ago after spending time staying with his parents in Arizona, where his mother recently died. He had been staying at a sober living house in Long Beach.
“Matt was one of those guys that the moment you started talking to him, you’d like him,” Henderson said. “He’d make you smile or laugh. He was charismatic. He was bubbly. He had that upbeat personality.”
Glover spend his mornings delivering food baskets to the elderly, then he spent evening collecting donations from address painting, according to Henderson. He enjoyed his work.
Glover was collecting donations after the organization previously re-painted the addresses on curb-sides on Dinard Avenue when the fatal shooting took place, Henderson said.
“He had just collected a donation. He was walking away from the door, he heard the gunshots being fired,” Henderson said.
Henderson said he did no understand why anyone would have targeted Glover, and wondered if the shooting was a robbery or a case of mistaken identity.
Glover is survived by an adult son, Henderson said.
“He was a great guy,” the employer said.
Funds to help Glover’s family with burial expenses are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/memorial-for-beloved-matthew-glover.
Anyone with information is urged 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 Matthew Glover, courtesy.
NORWALK >> A sheriff’s task force arrested a Lakewood man and seized 13 guns while dismantling an alleged prostitution and human trafficking ring operating out of a Norwalk escort service last week, authorities announced Wednesday.
Omar Nicandro Sanchez, 37, is also accused of sexually assaulting at least one woman and one underage girl who worked for his illegal escort business, “Bombshells,” which operated out of an office at Studebaker and Leffingwell roads in Norwalk according to California High Patrol Investigator Kerri Rivas of the L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, who served as the lead investigator on the case.
The multi-agency task force arrested him Friday at the business, she said. He was released from custody two days later after posting $420,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled April 28 in the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
In a written statement, sheriff’s officials described Bombshells as, “an illegal escort business, which supplied women for commercial sex to paying customers.”
Furthermore, “Mr. Sanchez victimized some of the women who worked at the agency and sold their sexual services for money,” Rivas said.
At least one of the sexual assault victims was a juvenile, she said.
The purported Escort service was believed to have been operating in Norwalk for two to three years, Rivas said. It used vague advertisement on websites such as Backpage.com to solicit Johns.
The investigation was ongoing, and investigators were still working to determined exactly how many victims were involved.
Sanchez faces expected charges of human trafficking related to the underage victim, as well as pimping and pandering charges in connection with the adults, Rivas said. He also faces potential charges of rape and sexual assault of a minor.
Additionally, Sanchez is expected to face numerous weapon-related charges after investigator seized 13 guns, including several AR-15 and AK-47-style weapons. “Because of a previous felony conviction, Sanchez is prohibited from possessing firearms,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
The cache of weapons was seized from Sanchez’s home, vehicle and a storage unit he had rented, Rivas said.
Investigators also seized cash believed to be proceeds from the illicit operation, officials said.
The bust was the culmination of a six-month-long investigation that began when some of the victims came forward, Rivas said.
Investigators are seeking any potential additional victims of Sanchez or his operation, she said. Anyone with information can reach the L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force at 323-526-5156. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTOS courtesy of the L.A. Regional Human Trafficking Task Force
NORWALK >> A man arrested last month on suspicion of raping a woman has been linked by DNA evidence to a second unsolved rape from 2015, officials said Wednesday.
Ronald Mitchell Douglas, 33, is charged with three counts of rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, false imprisonment by violence, attempted sodomy by use of force and bringing contraband into a jail, Deputy Lisa Jansen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Information Bureau said.
He’s pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment hearing on March 7 and is scheduled to return to the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing setting, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records.
“Both cases occurred in the city of Norwalk where Suspect Douglas offered to walk the victims home or give them a ride, Jansen said in a written statement. “Shortly thereafter, at a secondary location, Suspect Douglas proceeded to sexually assault the victims.”
Deputies arrested the suspect during the early-morning hours on March 5 in connection with an alleged attack on a 40-year-old woman, officials said.
“During the investigation, DNA evidence revealed that Suspect Ronald Douglas was linked to a 2015 case where he is suspected of sexually assaulting a 37-year-old female,” Jansen said.
Douglas was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail pending the trial process, records show.
Investigators suspect there may be additional victims who have yet to come forward, and encouraged anyone with information to do so, Jansen said.
The sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau can be reached at 877-710-5273, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
NORWALK >> No injuries were reported following two separate shooting within a mile of each other in Norwalk early Friday morning, authorities said.
The first shooting took place about 2:30 a.m. in the 16000 block of Flallon Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jaime Alvarez said.
Deputies responded to reports of gunfire heard in the area and found several spent 9mm bullet casings in the street, he said. But there were no signs of victims or property damage.
About 30 minutes later, a man in his 50s was walking at Hayford Avenue and Horst Street when a newer-model, black Chevy Silverado pickup truck approached, the sergeant said.
An attacker inside the truck, described only as male, whistled at the man before firing two shots in his direction, according to Alvarez. The victim was not struck, and the truck sped away.
No further details were available.
Anyone with information can reach 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.