MONTEBELLO >> Prosecutors have charged three additional suspects in connection with the alleged rape and murder of a 15-year-old Montebello girl on her way to school more than 12 years ago.
The three men join a woman who is already awaiting trial on charges related to the Oct., 2002, slaying of Brenda Sierra, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Eddie Chavira, 20, Daniel Cervantes, 35 and George Barraza, 35, were added to a felony complaint alleging murder and other charges already filed against Rosemary Chavira, 28, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Rosemary Chavira, Cervantes and Barraza are each charged with murder, conspiracy to dissuade a witness and forcible rape, along with the special circumstance of murder during the commission of a kidnapping to benefit a street gang, court documents show.
Eddie Chavira faces charges of murder and conspiracy to intimidate a witness.
Sierra was on her way to Schurr High School in Montbello when she was kidnapped on Oct. 18, 2002.
“She was raped and killed,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Her body was found the following day in the Crestline area of the San Bernardino Mountains. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.
Sierra had no gang ties, investigators said. But she may have been killed so send a message to the community to keep quiet about gang violence.
In the days before Sierra’s kidnapping and slaying, “Eddie Chavira was in custody for a shooting witnessed by victim Brenda Sierra’s relative,” the district attorney’s office statement said. “Chavira told a fellow Lott gang member that he was going to have other Lott gang members take care of a witness. About the same time, he contacted his (then-)15-year-old sister, Rosemary Chavira, to assist in getting other gang members to take care of witnesses.”
Eddie Chavira and Daniel Cervantes are each serving prison time for previous convictions, authorities said. Investigators arrested Rosemary Chavira in February. Barraza remains a fugitive.
Rosemary Chavira has pleaded not guilty to her charges and is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.
Arraignment dates were yet to be scheduled for Eddie Chavira and Cervantes.
Because Rosemary Chavira was herself a teen at the time of the killing, she faces a maximum penally of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charges, prosecutors said. Eddie Chavira faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Cervantes and Barraza’s alleged crimes make them eligible for the death penalty under California law, however authorities have not yet determined whether to seek capital punishment in the case.
PHOTO of Brenda Sierra – courtesy
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)
PASADENA >> Police jailed an Alhambra man Saturday on suspicion of raping an intoxicated coworker in Pasadena last month, police said.
Rene I. Flores, 29, was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail Sunday at the Pasadena Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, Los Angeles County booking records show.
Police arrested him Saturday morning at the workplace the suspect and alleged victim share in Rosemead, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
The alleged rape took place the night of Feb. 20 after Flores and the victim, a woman in her early-20s, had gone out for drinks with coworkers, he said.
“She started feeling sick while she was out drinking,” Mercado said.
Flores took the woman home, then sexually assaulted her while she was “highly intoxicated” and “not coherent,” the lieutenant said.
The woman promptly reported the crime to police, who have been investigating ever since, he said.
WHITTIER >> A man arrested more than 30 years after the 1981 rape and killing of a woman inside her Whittier home pleaded “no contest” to four felony charges Tuesday, on what would have been his victim’s 55th birthday, authorities said.
Joseph Allen Thornton, 53, immediately received a sentence of 24 years to life in state prison after entering his pleas in Norwalk Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Initially charged with murder, Thornton pleaded “no contest” to voluntary manslaughter, rape, sodomy by force and digital penetration by force, district attorney’s officials said.
For more than 30 years, Thornton had gotten away with the June 27, 1981, slaying of 21-year-old Blanca Negrete in her home in the 7900 block of Washington Avenue.
“At the time of the slaying, detectives had exhausted all leads and the case eventually went cold,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
But Whittier Police Department investigators reopened the cold case in 2010, and identified Thornton as a suspect in the crime in January of 2011 via previously unusable DNA evidence, police officials said at the time.
DNA evidence had been collected by investigators after the slaying occurred, however the technology of the time did not allow investigators to match it to a suspect, police said in a written statement. Thornton’s DNA had been entered into a law enforcement database as the result of a domestic violence conviction, Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller said at the time.
Once identified as a suspect, police turned their attention to locating and capturing Thornton, Miller said.
The trail led them as far away as Topeka, Kansas, where Thornton had stayed for many years after the killing, he said. Detectives ultimately tracked him down and arrested him in April, 2012, at his home in Auburn.
Negrete worked at what eventually became PIH Health Hospital at the time of her slaying, police said. What, if any, relationship that existed between her and her killer was unclear.
The conviction occurred on what would have been Negrete’s 55th birthday, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
In addition to his prison sentence, Norwalk Superior Court Judge Yvonne T. Sanchez ordered Thornton to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Ardalani said.
PHOTOS of convicted killer and rapist Joseph Thornton (above) and his victim, Blanca Negrete (below) courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.
BASSETT >> Deputies are seeking three men who kidnapped a teenage girl from the roadside and sexually assaulted her Saturday, officials said.
The 15-year-old girl was walking about 6:30 p.m. in the 600 block of Van Wig Avenue in the unincorporated county area of Bassett when her abductors stopped their car in front of her, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. James Beamon said.
“Two suspects exited the car. One of the suspects blindfolded the young lady,” the sergeant said.
The men took the girl to an unknown location where they raped her, Beamon said. They threatened the girl not to report the crime, then released the girl in the same general neighborhood from where she was kidnapped.
Deputies described the attackers as two Latino men in their late-20s, between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall. A description of the third suspect, who drove the car and never got out, was not available.
They drove an older-model, black Honda Civic with the first three license plate digits of “2WE.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> Police are investigating a report of the rape of a 14-year-old girl in a Pasadena alley earlier this week, officials said.
The alleged attack took place about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, but was not reported to police until Saturday afternoon, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
The teen told investigators she was walking down McGrew Alley, which runs just west of Los Robles Avenue, between Orange Grove Boulevard and Parke Street, on her way to a market when she was approached by a young man she did not recognize, the lieutenant said. He was initially described only as a Latino man between 17 and 19 years old and riding a BMX-style bicycle
“This young man came up to her and started a conversation,” Hettema said.
The man ultimately forced himself on the teenage girl, police said. No weapons were reported to have been involved in the attack.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4501.
PASADENA — Detectives arrested a 17-year-old Pasadena boy Friday on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl he met online, authorities said.
The teenage suspect was taken into custody about 1:30 p.m. at a home in the 700 block of Cypress Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said. He was arrested on suspicion of rape and taken to a juvenile hall. His name was not released due to his age.
Investigators had identified him as a suspect in the alleged rape, which took place in Pasadena in recent weeks.
“The suspect met the victim via a social media site,” Luna said. “He lured her to a secluded site in Pasadena where he forcibly raped her.”
The date and location of the alleged crime were not available Saturday.
“Detectives conducted an investigation, and through their investigation, they identified the suspect,” Luna said.
No further details were available.
It was a sad weekend in Hollywood, what with the deaths of Peter O’Toole, Joan Fontaine and Tom Laughlin.
Of the three, men of my generation were probably most affected by Laughlin and his role as Billy Jack, a ex-Green Beret who kicked some serious racist ass outside an Arizona reservation:
Here’s what was posted on his website this morning:
Tom Laughlin passed away at sunset
on Thursday, December 12, 2013
near his home in Thousand Oaks, California.
He was 82.
Tom is survived by his wife of 60 years, Delores,
his three children, and his five grandchildren.
Services have not yet been announced.
Deputies Thursday announced the arrest of a San Dimas man who fled Canada in 1980 pending his re-trial for the alleged rape of disabled child in 1974.
Raymond Douglas MacLeod, 71, was being held on immigration violation and weapons charges as he awaited deportation back to Canada to face charges there, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The fugitive, who officials said had been using a dead person’s social security number, was arrested Monday at his home at the East Shore Recreational Vehicle Park, 1440 Camper View Road in San Dimas, near Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, authorities said. The mobile home park is home to many children.
He had allegedly been hiding from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for more than 33 years.
“They’e eager to get him back in Canada,” Deputy Johnny Jones said, adding that the victim in the 1974 rape case had been informed of his recapture.
Deputy Dan Whitten, who identified MacLeod as a Canadian fugitive, said two rifles and several high-capacity magazines, including a 100-round drum, from an AK-47 rifle that was not found were seized from MacLeod’s mobile home when he was arrested without a struggle. McLeod is a convicted felon due to drunken driving and hit-and-run case stemming from the 1980s and is barred from possessing weapons.
He has been arrested several times in the United States over the past three decades, but not linked by law enforcement to the Canadian case.
Though MacLeod was expected to be charged with weapons violations in Los Angeles County, local officials planned to let the Canadian case be handled first.
“We’re going to go ahead and let (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) deport him,” Whitten said. Weapons charged will likely be filed later, generating an arrest warrant should MacLeod ever return to the United States.
MacLeod’s then-5-year-old victim is now married with a family and expressed relief that MacLeod was in custody, Whitten said.
“In 1974, Mr. MacLeod was arrested in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the rape of a 5 year-old who suffered with cerebral palsy,” officials from the Sheriff’s Parks Bureau said in a written statement.
As he was free on bail pending his trial in Canada, he twice attempted to flee Canada to the U.S. but was stopped, officials said.
“He was tried, and in four days was acquitted due to an error made by the judge,” the statement said. An appeals court ordered a new trial in January of 1980, however MacLeod was not present in court during the appeals process.
“MacLeod was ultimately found to have fled Canada, and a warrant was issued for his arrest by the RCMP,” according to the sheriff’s statement.
The case went cold for more than three decades until January, when Deputy Dan Whitten of the Sheriff’s Parks Bureau became aware of MacLeod’s possible connection to the Canadian case.
After running McLeod’s information in January, Whitten said he noticed a “very vague” entry listed in connection with his name in a national crime database. After three or four hours of research and a call to Canadian investigators, Whitten confirmed MacLeod was the fugitive rape suspect.
Canadian authorities immediately began the lengthy process of extraditing MacLeod back to Canada.
But the deputy said he discovered that MacLeod was using a fraudulent social security number and was living in the U.S. illegally, speeding up MacLeod’s return to a Canadian courthouse.
“Due to the seriousness of the crime he was accused of, Deputy Whitten contacted ICE and the United States Marshals Office,” according to the sheriff’s statement. “Following a 10-month investigation, ICE confirmed Mr. MacLeod’s Canadian Citizenship, which led to his arrest and detention pending deportation.”
Investigators were cautious not to tip MacLeod off to his pending arrest as they continued their investigation. “I was very careful to watch my footsteps,” Whitten said.
MacLeod was believed to have been living the mobile home park for at least eight years.
It was unclear how long the deportation process would take.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Four people are accused of helping hide a gang member wanted for raping an El Monte convenience store employee.
El Monte Police Sgt. Roger Cobian said felony charges were filed Tuesday in El Monte Superior Court against Charlene Godinez, 39, of La Puente, John Godinez, 41, of La Puente, Lisa Beserra, 45, of El Monte and Mario Chavez, 43, Rowland Heights for allegedly assisting Joseph Amaya to evade capture and prosecution.
Booking records show the four suspects were arrested Saturday by El Monte police. Charlene and John Godinez are out on bond. Beserra is being held at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood on a $90,751 bail which includes bail for two other unrelated cases. The three have a Nov. 5 court date.
Chavez is in custody at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles and his bail is $50,000. His booking slip doesn’t show the date for his next court appearance.
Detectives may seek charges against others believed to have helped hide Amaya for the week following the Oct. 19 rape of a 19-year-old woman in El Monte, according to Cobian.
Prosecutors alleged Amaya was at the mini mart in the 4100 block of Peck Road earlier and left. He returned while the employee was getting ready to close the store.
The woman tried to lock the doors but he allegedly forced his way in. Amaya allegedly barricaded the doors, dragged the woman to the back of the business and sexually assaulted her, authorities said.
Detectives searched for the 18-year-old suspect.
“Amaya had been hiding with family and friends moving from El Monte to La Puente and Hacienda Heights,” Cobian said.
He was arrested in West Covina on Saturday after a traffic stop. Cobian said Amaya was in a vehicle with six adults and one minor.
Amaya remains in custody on $5 million bail. His Wednesday arraignment at Pomona Superior Court was continued to Nov. 13, court officials said.
– Ruby Gonzales