Burglar tries to force way into occupied Sierra Madre home

SIERRA MADRE — A burglar smashed the window of a family’s house early Saturday, but apparently ran off before getting inside, police said.
The incident was reported about 8 a.m. in the 600 block of Holly Trail Path, Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said.
“Residents were home. They heard the sound of breaking glass,” Ortiz said.
The would-be intruder apparently fled after realizing the home was occupied, the sergeant said. A description of the burglar was not available.
Police found that a window screen at the home had been pried off and a window smashed, he added.
Anyone with information is asked to call Sierra Madre police at 626-355-1414.
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Sierra Madre man returns home after serving sentence for Canadian child porn conviction

SIERRA MADRE — A man convicted last year in Canada of possessing and smuggling child pornography has returned to his hometown of Sierra Madre after serving his sentence, police said.
Robert Matheson was convicted of possessing and smuggling 2,820 images and 285 video — many of them depicting underage boys engaged in sex acts with adult men, officials said.
He is also under investigation by U.S. officials, though investigators with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been tight-lipped about their probe.
Because his conviction was outside the United States, Matheson is not required by California law to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, Sierra Madre Interim Police Chief Larry Giannone said.
After being sentenced to 120 days in jail for the Canadian child pornography conviction, Matheson was released Wednesday, officials said.
On Thursday, “Mr. Matheson voluntarily came into the police station to advise us that he was back at his residence and simply stated; ‘There are two sides to every story,” Giannone said.
Prior to Wednesday’s release, ICE officials had been informed to expect Matheson’s release in February, however an exact date was not available, police said.
“I.C.E. is still actively working on the Matheson case, however it is a lengthy process and I am not at liberty to discuss details of the investigation,” Giannone said. “Mr. Matheson is aware of the continuing investigation.”
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Suspects arrested in connection with Arcadia break-in

ARCADIA — Police arrested three burglary suspects in Sierra Madre Thursday following an attempted break-in in Arcadia, authorities said.
Kenneth Battle, 25, of Los Angeles, Justin Tyson, 29, of Fontana, and Dewayne Tyars, 25, of Redlands were booked on suspicion of attempted burglary and receiving stolen property, Arcadia police Sgt. Tom Le Veque said in a written statement.
A woman heard a “loud and continuous” knock at her front door in the 400 block of Arbolada Drive about 8:45 a.m. and looked through the peep hole to see a man she’d never seen before standing on her porch, Le Veque said.
She watched as the man walked to the side of her house, then returned to the front door and began knocking again, police said.
The woman woke her husband, and the couple heard people on their rear deck and inside their bathroom, the sergeant said.
The couple dialed 9-1-1 to report the burglary, he said, and while on the phone with authorities, the residents saw two men walk out of their back yard.
 Arcadia police officers confirmed that an attempted break-in had occurred, Le Veque said.
“The suspects had removed the bathroom screen and tried to open the window,” he said. “It appears that the suspects either saw or heard the residents inside the home and abandoned their attempts to gain entry, choosing to flee.”
A short time later, a Sierra Madre police officer stopped a car on Baldwin Avenue near the 210 Freeway and noticed the description of the occupants and vehicle matched that of the Arcadia burglary attempt, officials said.
“After positive identification of two of the suspects, the trio was taken into custody,” Le Veque said. “Additional evidence was found inside the vehicle and the investigation is continuing.”
According to police and sheriff’s booking records, Battle and Tyson, who are parolees, are being held without bail. Tyars was released from jail the same day of his arrest after posting $50,000 bail.
All three were due for arraignment Monday in Pasadena Superior Court.
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So Cal serial killer from Monterey Park indicted on suspicion of New York murders

Rodney Alcala, a former Monterey Park resident who was sentenced to death in March for the murders of five women and girls in the 1970s, has been indicted in connection with two additional murders in New York, authorities said Thursday.
A cold-case unit established last year in the Manhattan district attorney’s office built on the California case and other evidence collected over the years to obtain an indictment, officials said.
“Cold cases are never, ever forgotten cases,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a written statement. “Our prosecutors, investigators and partners in the NYPD do not give up.”
Long after the slayings were relegated to cold-case files, Alcala, now 67, who had long been suspected in the New York cases has been indicted, prosecutors said.
The killings made headlines, spurred extensive investigations and frustrated authorities for decades: A 23-year-old flight attendant found raped and strangled with a pair of stockings in her Manhattan apartment in 1971. A Hollywood nightspot owner’s 23-year-old daughter whose remains were found in the woods in 1978 after she disappeared in Manhattan the year before.
Though he remains on California’s death row for now, Rodney Alcala is expected to be extradited to New York to face murder charges in the deaths of Cornelia Crilley and Ellen Hover. Alcala, 67, was convicted last year of strangling four women and a 12-year-old girl in California in the 1970s, in killings prosecutors said were laced with torture.
The indictment was the result of an “exhaustive re-examination” of the two unsolved murders last year, which included the interview of more than 100 witnesses, New York County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Erin Duggan said in a written statement.
“This re-focus on these cases, combined with information made available during the defendant’s trial in California, finally gave prosecutors the evidence needed to secure today’s indictment,” she said.
Alcala represented himself in his California case, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he would have an attorney in New York.
Alcala was sentenced in March to death for five murders in the 1970s. His victims were Robin Samsoe, 12, of Huntington Beach; Jill Barcomb, 18, of New York; Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.
Samsoe’s body was discovered in the Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre.
After the verdict against Alcala last year, authorities released more than 100 photos of young women and girls found in the amateur photographer’s storage locker, and prosecutors said authorities were exploring the possibility of tying Alcala to cases in other states including New York.
The database of photographs remains posted at the Orange County District Attorney’s website, orangecountyda.com.
“As we often do in cold cases, detectives made connections and his victims piece by piece, year after year, including last April’s public release toward that end of 226 images of women photographed by Alcala.
New York District Attorney’s officials declined to discuss specific details of the case Thursday, saying it may jeopardize the prosecution.
He had been suspected in Hover’s death since at least 1979, according to newspaper reports at the time; California prosecutors even sought unsuccessfully to mention her killing in the first of Alcala’s several trials in the 12-year-old’s death, in 1980.
In 2003, police detectives investigating the Crilley slaying went to California with a warrant to interview Alcala and get a dental impression from him.
The New York Police Department’s cold-case squad also discovered while investigating the Crilley slaying that Alcala had used an alias, John Berger, while living in New York, and that name was also in the Hover case file, said Paul Browne, the NYPD’s chief spokesman. A private detective working for Hover’s family said at the time of her disappearance that she had a lunch date with a photographer with a similar name.
Alcala initially denied he ever visited New York, but after police showed him the warrant, he said, “What took you so long?” Browne said.
Alcala had been convicted and sentenced to death twice before in the California girl’s 1979 murder, but the verdicts had been overturned on procedural grounds. Drawing on DNA samples and other evidence, prosecutors refiled charges in her death and added the four other murder charges in 2006.
Alcala was living with his mother on Abajo Drive in Monterey Park when he was first arrested for murder in July of 1979.
He grew up in a middle-class home in Monterey Park and claimed to have a near-genius IQ of 135. He went to Cantwell High School in Montebello and earned a bachelor’s degree from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 1968. 
His trial was both gruesome and bizarre. Prosecutors portrayed him as a killer with a penchant for torturing his victims, raping one with a claw-toothed hammer and posing several victims nude in sexual positions after their deaths.
Alcala, acting as his own attorney, offered a rambling defense that included questioning the mother of one of his victims, playing Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 song “Alice’s Restaurant” and showing a TV clip of himself on a 1978 episode of “The Dating Game.”
- The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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Sierra Madre gas station customers victims of ID theft

SIERRA MADRE — About 80 customers of a Sierra Madre gas station have had their identities stolen, and police sought more victims Thursday, officials said.
The alleged identity thefts took place over the past month at EVG Quality Gas, at Baldwin Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said.
The gas station closed down about a week ago, he added.
Police learned Monday that customers of the station were having their credit card and debit card numbers used without their permission, the sergeant said. The investigation continued Thursday, when police had identified about 80 victims.
Anyone who has used their credit or debit cards at EVG Quality Gas and noticed unauthorized activity on their accounts is asked to contact the Sierra Madre Police Department.
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Pasadena man with long rap sheet suspected in Sierra Madre burglaries

SIERRA MADRE — A man with a criminal history dating back decades is behind bars on suspicion of at least one Sierra Madre burglary, and is being investigated in connection with others, authorities said Thursday.
Christopher Martin, 50, of Pasadena was arrested Sunday and faced his initial court appearance Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court, Sierra Madre police Sgt. Keith Abbott said.
The sergeant said he arrested Martin in the early morning hours after determining he was involved in “felony activity.”
Abbott declined to say when, where or how many burglaries Martin is suspected in, saying he believed it could jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
He would say only that Martin is being investigated in connection with, “multiple burglaries and thefts in the greater Sierra Madre area.”
According to sheriff’s booking records, Martin was being held without bail and was due for his next court appearance on Nov. 22.
Los Angeles County Superior Court records indicate Martin has been convicted of 27 criminal offenses since 1987, ranging from minor traffic violations to robbery.
He was convicted of drug-related charges in 2010, 2006, 2005, three times in 2003 and 1992.
He was convicted of theft in 2008, 2007 and twice in 2004, records show. He was convicted of robbery in 1999.
Martin’s criminal record also includes three driving under the influence convictions, forgery, impersonation, giving false information to police, reckless driving and five separate conviction for driving without a valid license.

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Blogger burglarized in Sierra Madre

John Crawford over at Sierra Madre Tattler blogs about a break-in at his home that cost him:

a computer of the more traditional kind, two laptops including the one I usually type this blog on, a faux flat screen TV, a kid’s cello (the maestro seemed strangely unmoved by its loss), the stereo including a turntable, some jewelry and, oddly enough, a stack of my shirts.

At the tail end of the post, Crawford reveals how a similar break-in happened at Chief Marilyn Diaz’s home. You can read the entire post and all the comments here.

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Solo car crashes in Pasadena area leave one dead, two injured

One man is dead and two other people are injured following solo-car crashes in unincorporated San Marino and Sierra Madre Thursday morning:

SAN MARINO — A man died at the scene of a crash Thursday after a pickup truck crashed into a pole, authorities said.
The incident was first reported just after 11:30 a.m. on Huntington Drive at Sunnyslope Avenue, just east of San Gabriel Boulevard, in an unincorporated county area near San Marino, California Highway Patrol Officer Krystal Carter said.
The dead man was appeared to be about 40 years old, she said.
Another man in the truck was hospitalized with injuries considered moderate to major, officials said.
The circumstances of the crash, which were being investigated by the Altadena office of the CHP, were not immediately available, Carter said.

SIERRA MADRE — A man crashed his car into a tree Thursday and was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.
The crash occurred about 10:30 a.m. in the 400 block of North Grove Street, Sierra Madre police Capt. Larry Giannone said.
The man, a Downey resident estimated in his late 30s, was badly hurt but was expected to survive Thursday afternoon, the captain said.
It took firefighters about an hour to free the injured man from the mangled Toyota Matrix, Giannone said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, he added.

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Threat of mudslides discussed in Sierra Madre

SIERRA MADRE — Prompted by the first rain of the season, emergency and city officials met with a small group of Sierra Madre residents Wednesday to take steps to protect their homes and loved ones from mudslides and debris flows that threaten the community in the wake of last year’s Santa Anita Fire.
While the Station Fire is is not affecting the hillsides near Sierra Madre, concerns remain because the hillsides are still unstable from the Santa Anita Fire, which started in April 2008 and scorched a little less than 600 acres above the foothill community, Sierra Madre Director of Public Works Bruce Inman said. The hilldsides are not expected to stablize for another three to five years, he said.
Because of limited resources and staff, he said, residents are encouraged take measures to protect their homes and loved ones in the event of major slides.
“We don’t have the resources and staffing to provide relief to individual residents,” Inman said. “You need to prepare and protect your own property.
Furthermore, he said, because of the Station Fire, county resources will likely be spread thin should the region receive significant rain.
Inman said residents should not be lulled into complacency by the amount of new growth on the hillsides above Sierra Madre, as the ground remains unstable.
The both city and county officials have taken steps since last year to strengthen the community against mudslides and debris flows, Inman said, but added there will undoubtedly be mud during the rainy season.
A system of green, yellow and red flags throughout the city keep residents posted on the current threat level, officials explained. Green flags were posted Wednesday.
A three stage warning system is used by Sierra Madre to warn residents of the threat level posed by mudslides.
A green flag is erected when officials receive word that there’s an 80 percent or greater chance of rain, Inman explained.
A yellow flag indicated mudslides have occurred, but are relatively minor, he added. At this level, residents are asked to move their cars from canyon roads to make room fir emergency vehicles.
The final flag, red, indicated a significant mudslides have occurred, Inman added. Parking is prohibited during a red flag warning on all canyon streets, and mandatory evacuation will be ordered.
Should calls for evacuations come, Sierra Madre Volunteer Dire Department Chief Steve Heydorff encouraged residents to heed them.
“When we do ask you to leave, you need to leave. It could be a while for us as a fire department to get up there.”
Those preparing to evacuate should make plans for pets, as well as make sure to have seven days worth of supplies on hand, Sierra Madre Police Chief Marilyn Diaz said.
She also advised residents to look out for elderly or disabled neighbors who may need help during an emergency.
Officials referred residents to mudslide preparation information available on-line through the county Department of Public Works at www.ladpw.org.
During Wednesday’s rainfall, no issues with mudslides or debris flows in Sierra Madre were reported, Inman said.
The cause of the Santa Anita fire was never officially confirmed, Heydorff said, however investigators suspected a discarded cigarette was to blame.
Robert D. K. White, 56, of Sierra Madre said he he believed the city was doing everything in its power to prepare for the looming threat of mudslides and debris flows.
“We have a fantastic staff here in the city,” he said. “They’re our friends out there watching out for us.”

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