DIAMOND BAR >> Sheriff’s officials Thursday announced the arrest of a 42-year-old San Dimas woman who was found driving in Orange County with the remains of her slain mother-in-law in an SUV Wednesday following a fire at the mother-in-law’s Diamond Bar home.
Unyoung Lee had been a “person of interest” in the investigation ever since she was found driving in Tustin early Wednesday morning, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
After a day of questioning, detectives arrested Lee about 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to Los Angeles County booking records. She was booked on suspicion of murder and was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail pending her arraignment, scheduled Friday in Pomona Superior Court.
Orange county coroner’s officials withheld the identity of Lee’s alleged victim and 77-year-old mother-in-law.
A large fire that broke out shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday at the victim’s house in the 1200 block of N. Diamond Bar Boulevard first drew emergency personnel to the home, according to deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Firefighters found no one inside the home.
But Tustin police soon received a tip that the resident of the home had been killed, the house had been set on fire intentionally, and the possible killer was driving in the Tustin area with the victim’s remains in the car.
Tustin police quickly found the car and detained Lee as detectives continued their investigation both in Tustin and in Diamond Bar.
A motive in the slaying has not been released.
A Canadian national who fled his home country ahead of his trial on charges of molesting a disabled child in 1980, then was captured living under an assumed identity at a San Dimas mobile home park in 2013, has been returned to Canada to face justice, authorities said Wednesday.
After 35 years as a fugitive, and another two years spent fighting extradition back to Canada, officials returned Raymond Douglas Charles Macleod, 72, to Vancouver late Tuesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said in a written statement.
“For the victim in this case, justice has been a long time coming, but she can take consolation in the fact that her alleged assailant is now being held accountable,” said David Jennings, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Los Angeles. “I applaud my officers and the ICE attorneys whose perseverance made this happen. We will not allow our country to serve as a safe haven for those who commit reprehensible crimes.”
ICE agents and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrested Macleod Oct. 28, 2013, at a mobile home park where he had been living in the 1400 block of Camper View Road in San Dimas, sheriff’s officials said at the time. He was believed to have been living there for at least eight years prior to his arrest.
He’s accused of the 1974 rape of a 5-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy, ICE officials said.
After twice attempting unsuccessfully to flee Canada to the U.S. while freed from custody during his initial trial, Macleod was acquitted due to a judge’s error, sheriff’s officials said. He was ordered to appear at a new trial in January of 1980, but disappeared.
After he was recaptured in 2013, a judge ordered Macleod deported to Canada in March of 2014, authorities said.
“Macleod subsequently appealed the judge’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” according to the ICE statement. “Ultimately, both panels concurred with the original ruling, paving the way for this week’s removal.”
PHOTOS courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
SAN DIMAS >> A Covina woman and her two dogs died late Saturday after she was struck by a vehicle that ran a red light around the corner from her home in San Dimas, authorities said.
Violet Margaret Lopez-Prieto, 62, died at the scene of the 10:08 p.m. collision at the angled intersection of Badillo and Cypress streets, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corrall said.
“She was crossing the intersection when the (driver) failed to stop for a red light,” sheriff’s Sgt. Vicky Gregory said.
The woman and two dogs she was walking were struck by the vehicle, Gregory said.
Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene, Corrall said.
The driver of the car, described only as a man, remained at the scene and cooperated with deputies, sheriff’s Sgt. Louis Serrano Jr. said. There were no initial signs of intoxicated driving, and the driver was not arrested as the investigation continued.
Lopez-Prieto lived in a house about a quarter-mile from where she was struck, just across the city border in Covina.
Family members gathered at the home Sunday said they were not ready to comment as they continued absorbing the shock of Lopez-Prieto’s sudden death.
Public records indicated Lopez-Prieto had been an owner of the home since 1998, and the home had been owned by her family since at least 1992.
Only a discarded paramedic’s glove marked the scene of the fatal collision Sunday afternoon.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the collision were available.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies investigated reports of a shooting Friday, but found no sign of a victim or suspect, officials said.
Authorities received calls reporting gunfire about 7:33 p.m. in the 300 block of West Nubia Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
Witnesses reported seeing a group of Latino men shooting at a black man with a semi-automatic handgun, she said. It was unclear of the intended target was struck.
But deputies found no victim or suspects at the scene, Edwards said. And no gunshot victims had shown up at nearby hospitals Friday night.
SAN DIMAS >> A 29-year-old San Dimas man convicted of assaulting his then-1-year-old son, leaving the child disabled, received a life sentence Wednesday, officials said.
A Pomona Superior Court jury convicted James David Higbee of assault on a child causing paralysis and child abuse on Nov. 17, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. The jury also found true the special allegation that Higbee personally inflicted great bodily injury in the crimes.
The toddler’s maternal grandmother dropped the child off at his father’s San Dimas home for a visitation on Sept. 27, 2011, officials said. The parents were separated.
“When the paternal grandmother returned to the home from a short trip to the grocery store, the boy’s body was limp, his breathing was loud and uneven and his eyes had rolled back in his head,” Ardalani said.
The boy suffered two skull fractures and severe brain injuries, she said.
“At trial, doctors testified that the child had numerous skull and brain surgeries as a result of his injuries,” Ardalani said. “Despite medical treatment, the now-4-year-old child is physically disabled.
The boy continues to suffer with educational deficits and the rights side of his body remains weak, Ardalai said.
It was unclear how exactly the injuries were inflicted, Ardalani said.
Higbee, who had remained free on bail pending the trial process, was remanded into custody following his conviction in November, Ardalani said.
SAN DIMAS >> Paramedics rushed a 2-year-old girl to a hospital Sunday after she fell from the second-story window of a San Dimas home, authorities said.
The incident was reported shortly before noon in the 2200 block of Terrebone Avenue, according to Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s officials.
The toddler was in stable condition as rescuers flew by helicopter to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, fire Capt. Patrick Carter said.
Deputies determined the fall was accidental, and no foul play was suspected, sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
No further details were available.
SAN DIMAS >> A Chino Hills man is accused of drunken driving in connection with a crash that severely injured a passenger and killed a dog late Tuesday, authorities said.
California Highway Patrol officials expected to arrest Matthew Kitakis, 32, upon his release from a hospital, where he was being treated for injuries suffered in the 9:50 p.m. crash on the southbound 57 Freeway at Arrow Highway in San Dimas, CHP Officer Richard McAllister said.
A 34-year-old Chino Hills woman riding as a passenger in the Ford Explorer driven by Kitakis was thrown from the SUV in the crash and suffered major injuries, the officer said. Paramedics took the woman to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with serious injuries, including possible skull and spine fractures.
A dog also riding inside the SUV died in the crash, McAllister said.
The crash occurred as Kitakis was driving the Explorer at 65 to 70 mph in the right-hand lane, officials said.
“For unknown reasons, the driver lost control of the Explorer, allowing it to veer to the right and drive up an embankment,” McAllister said. The SUV then overturned, ultimately coming to a rest back on its wheels.
The crash was being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies jailed two men early Saturday for allegedly burglarizing a residential garage in San Dimas, officials said.
Officials ultimately arrested Alex Powell of Altadena and Briley Lambert of Covina, both 18, on suspicion of residential burglary following the 3:40 p.m. crime in the 1600 block of Via Alegre, officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s San Dimas Station said.
A resident called deputies to report someone was inside the garage, officials said. Two men were seen leaving the garage, which the resident had accidentally left open, before deputies arrived.
Deputies found Powell hiding nearby, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Upon checking the location he was hiding, they recovered items stolen from the garage. In addition, he had a checkbook in his pocket that was stolen from an unlocked vehicle on Via Esperanza,” according to the sheriff’s statement.
About two hours after the initial report of a break-in, deputies found and arrested Lambert in the same area in connection with the burglary, according to officials and county booking records. He was allegedly found with items taken from the Via Alegre garage.
Lambert was also being sought by another local police agency, who had previously found his fingerprints at the scene of a residential burglary, sheriff’s officials said.
According to county booking records, Powell and Briley were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each pending their initial court appearances, scheduled Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies arrested an Oak Hills man early Sunday after a Via Verde homeowner caught him in the act of a residential break-in, authorities said.
Victor Chirino, 40, was ultimately booked on suspicion of burglary, possession of burglary tools and bringing drugs into a sheriff’s station, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rebecca Rodriguez said.
A man in his 40s called police about 6:50 a.m. to report finding a man inside his home in the 1000 block of Camino Del Cerritos, the sergeant said.
“The homeowner heard noise in the living room,” she said. He encountered a man breaking into the home through a window.
The burglar ran from the home and fled in a car after being confronted by the homeowner, Rodriguez said. The homeowner provided deputies with the intruder’s license plate number.
Responding deputies found Chirino and his vehicle in the same neighborhood, Rodriguez said. He was in possession of a crowbar and other alleged burglary tools.
Rodriguez said Chirino also had a small amount of suspected methamphetamine, which was not discovered until after he was brought into a secure portion of the sheriff’s station, resulting in an additional felony allegation.
According to county booking records, Chirino was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.
Due to technical problems with Los Angeles County booking records Sunday, information regarding Chirino’s bail and initial court appearance was not available.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies checking out a call of someone yelling followed their noses to a marijuana grow Tuesday, authorities said.
Two people were arrested as a result of the discovery of about 100 pot plants growing inside a commercial building in the 400 block of Arrow Highway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The estimated street value of the plants was not available.
Sgt. Louie Serrano of the sheriff’s San Dimas station said deputies responded to a disturbance call at that location around 4:15 p.m.
“Deputies were able to contact two individuals. They did a welfare check inside and smelled the odor of marijuana, “ Serrano said.
Deputies discovered the illicit crop and arrested the man and woman present at the building.
Trenton Dale Burbank, 46, of San Dimas was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, while Cheri Diane Sawvell, 44, of Pomona was booked on suspicion of transporting or sales of a controlled substance, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Brett Lisle and Los Angeles County booking records.
Burbank was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail and Sawvell was being held in lieu of $30,000, booking records show. Both are scheduled to appear for arraignment Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.
The investigation was being handled by the Sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau.
- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales