Murder at the Promenade on the Peninsula on May 3, 2018

Please contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 with any information related to this crime. If you prefer to report information anonymously, please either contact "Crime Stoppers" at (800) 222-TIPS (8477), download the "P3 Tips" mobile app available on Google Play and the Apple App store, or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org 


Statement from the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council about the Murder of Susan Leeds

The murder committed in the neighboring community of Rolling Hills Estates last week has shaken the entire Palos Verdes Peninsula and our residents. The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council and Staff offer their deepest sympathy to the family and friends of our resident and neighbor, Susan Leeds, as they cope with their sudden and senseless loss.  

We are universally outraged by this heinous crime and we all share a deep concern for the safety of the entire Peninsula community.  

The City Council and our Staff continue to work directly with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to track developments related to this crime. As an active investigation, there is a limit to that which can be shared at any particular moment. The desire on the part of the public for the latest information is understandable, and we are sharing what is appropriate at the earliest opportunity.  

There is nothing that suggests an on-going threat to the community related to this crime. Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has stated that this case has the highest priority and his Department is working diligently in pursuit of a resolution to the case.  Nevertheless, residents are encouraged to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings, and to report suspicious persons or activity to law enforcement. 

We are especially thankful for the assistance and support provided by Captain Dan Beringer and the Lomita Sheriff’s Station in keeping the Peninsula community informed about the on-going investigation.  We are also confident that justice will be served soon. 


Susan Brooks, Mayor 

Jerry Duhovic, Mayor Pro Tem 

Eric Alegria, Councilmember 

John Cruikshank, Councilmember 

Ken Dyda, Councilmember


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Tuesday, May 22, 2018- Statement from Mayor Susan Brooks about the Susan Leeds Murder Investigation

As Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced yesterday afternoon, the District Attorney’s office has chosen not to file charges (at this time) against the suspect arrested last week in the May 3rd murder of Rancho Palos Verdes resident Susan Leeds.  While the Sheriff’s Department continues to process additional evidence in this investigation, the suspect has been released.  Due process under the law requires a thorough and comprehensive investigation by law enforcement.  We are all naturally concerned and curious about the identity and motives of any potential suspect(s) in this case, but I urge all Palos Verdes Peninsula residents to refrain from rampant speculation and rumor-mongering, especially on social media sites.  Such activities drive a wedge between residents at a time when we should all be coming together to support the safety and serenity of our community.  I have every confidence in the investigation being undertaken by the District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Department. In addition, the Sheriff’s Department continues to emphasize that there is no on-going threat to the community related to this case.

In closing, anyone who was at the Promenade on the Peninsula shopping center in Rolling Hills Estates on May 3, 2018, between 9:30 AM and 12:30 PM is urged to contact LASD Homicide Detective Quintero or Detective Austin at (323) 890-5500.

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VehVictim

Monday, May 21, 2018- Statement from Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

On 05/17/18, Investigators arrested Cherie Townsend for the murder of Susan Leeds. The facts of the case were presented to the District Attorney’s Office which worked with LASD Homicide Detectives through the weekend reviewing all the associated documents known at this time. Prosecutors are requesting additional follow up to be conducted as they continue to work closely with the LASD Homicide Detectives. On 05/21/18, Cherie Townsend will be released from the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. As an update to the LASD press conference on Friday 5/18/18, the general public has come forward and provided additional information in this case which has been followed up on appropriately.

The focus of our investigation has absolutely not changed. The investigation has progressed. It is not unusual for prosecutors to request additional information and we are confident this homicide case is moving forward. Investigators also had the opportunity to obtain key statements from a suspect and collect physical evidence that is now undergoing rigorous forensic examination at the LASD Crime Lab. We share the same goal as the District Attorney’s Office and that is to achieve a successful prosecution that brings resolution and justice for Susan Leed’s family. Our Homicide Investigators still believe that this remains an isolated incident in a historically safe community. As a measure of reassurance, the LASD has increased visibility of their deputies in Rolling Hills Estates and remains in close contact with the city on further developments in this case. The community still plays an important role. We are asking anyone who was at the Promenade Shopping Center in Rolling Hills Estates on May 3, 2018 between 9:30am and 12:30pm to contact LASD Homicide Detective Quintero or Detective Austin at 323-890-5500.


Friday, May 18, 2018- Facebook Live Video of the Sheriff's Department press conference regarding the arrest of a suspect in the murder of Rancho Palos Verdes resident Susan Leeds

To view video of the press conference visit https://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment/ 


Thursday, May 17, 2018- Statement from Sheriff McDonnell and Officials Announce the Arrest of a Suspect Involved in the Rolling Hills Estates Murder and Discuss their Continued Investigation Efforts 

Who: Sheriff Jim McDonnell, Lomita Station Captain Dan Beringer, Homicide Bureau Captain Chris Bergner, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Britt Huff, and City Manager Doug Prichard

What: Sheriff’s officials will discuss the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a suspect involved in the alleged stabbing death of 66-year-old Susan Leeds of Rancho Palos Verdes.

On Thursday, May 3, 2018 at approximately 12:22 p.m., victim Susan Leeds was discovered inside a car parked in a structure located on the 500 block of Deep Valley Drive, Rolling Hills Estates. She suffered multiple stab wounds to her upper torso and was pronounced dead at the scene.

When: Friday, May 18, 2018 at 8:00 A.M.

Where: Hall of Justice – First Floor Media

Conference Room

 211 West Temple Street, Los Angeles

Media visual: Surveillance footage of the suspect’s vehicle

**This news conference will be seen LIVE on Facebook**

Visit https://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment/ to watch**


Wednesday, May 16, 2018- Statement from the Promenade on the Peninsula

The Promenade on the Peninsula released a statement related to the tragedy that occurred on May 3, 2018.  To view the statement click on the following link /DocumentCenter/View/11907


Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - Statement from Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Homicide Bureau are continuing their investigation into the death of a female adult which occurred on May 03, 2018, in the 500 block of Deep Valley Drive, Rolling Hills Estates.

While homicide investigators continue to actively pursue multiple leads, we ask the public to remain patient and vigilant. We are encouraging anyone who’s seen anything out of the ordinary, suspicious activity, or persons inside of the parking structure on May 03, 2018, between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call "Crime Stoppers" by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP, or “P3 Mobile” for the hearing impaired, on Google Play or the App Store, or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

Lomita Station personnel are continuing their efforts to provide resources to the community, as well as working with community members and city officials to enhance public safety and awareness. The LASD will work to keep the public informed as the investigation moves forward.


Friday, May 11, 2018 - Statement from the Palos Verdes Peninsula Regional Law Enforcement Committee

The statement posted below was shared by Rolling Hills City Councilmember Bea Dieringer at the most recent meeting of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Regional Law Enforcement Committee, which is a longstanding cooperative effort between the cities of Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates designed to address issues of public safety on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Councilmember Dieringer, who serves on the Committee, has 37 years’ experience as a Deputy District Attorney.  We hope this information will help provide the public with an understanding of the investigative process:


I rarely post on Nextdoor, however, as a prosecutor for the past 37 years, I feel that it is important to share my perspective for your consideration. As a Peninsula resident who has lived on the Hill for decades and frequents the Promenade, I share the feelings expressed by many regarding this violent, brutal murder and regarding the need to do all that we can to increase public safety in our community.

I am only going to address one issue related to this murder that has come up frequently both here on Nextdoor and on the FB Live webcast. That issue relates to my neighbors' request for more information about this murder and about the person who committed it. Clearly it would be helpful if this murderer was already incarcerated so that everyone could feel safer that this killer could not harm them or others. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened--yet. So now, people understandably want to know more about this murderer that would help them be "on the lookout" for this person and thereby avoid becoming another victim.

Providing public information about an uncharged murder, however, causes a HUGE problem for the future successful prosecution of that murder. This is particularly true of murders in which there is no immediately clear and obvious suspect. For example, it makes it more difficult to successfully prosecute a murderer based on the statements of witnesses if details about the crime, as described by the witnesses, were previously publicly disseminated, instead of being details that only the murderer and/or murder witnesses could have known.

Also, if law enforcement provides public information about the murderer and the suspected motive, it makes it much more difficult for them to apprehend this killer. We are not the only ones who are following the news about this murder--the killer is following the news as well. Even though I am curious, I have not asked for nor received any additional information from law enforcement about this crime. We should support our law enforcement in their efforts to refrain from saying anything publicly that could tip off the murderer and make it more difficult for investigators to find and arrest this person.

Rather than trying to get all the information that the investigators know about this crime, I believe that it is more important to make sure that the homicide investigators are able to do their job without compromising their investigative leads so that this murderer is not only caught, but also is successfully prosecuted--without receiving any reversal of his conviction on appeal. To me, it would be far worse to have a cold-blooded killer released back into our community after being acquitted due to such compromise issues, knowing that this person could never be re-tried for the murder because of double jeopardy.

The Peninsula is "safer" than many other SoCal communities only in the sense that we have a much lower crime rate. However, no community is completely safe. Sometimes horrible crimes still happen to people who did nothing wrong. I feel that I have gained much vicarious experience from reading numerous police reports; I am much more aware of my surroundings everywhere I go. We all would like to know more about this heinous murder and about the killer who committed it. Hopefully that information will come to us shortly, after the investigation is completed. In the meantime, I think that it is important for all of us to be more aware and vigilant in observing everything around us and to report to the Sheriffs anything that appears suspicious. In so doing, we can help to prevent ourselves and others from becoming crime victims.


Thursday, May 10, 2018- Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Update 

Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Homicide Bureau are continuing their investigation into the death of a female adult which occurred on May 03, 2018, in the 500 block of Deep Valley Drive, Rolling Hills Estates.

On May 04, 2018, a male adult was detained in regards to this case. He was arrested for an unrelated charge. He was labeled, at the time, as a “person of interest.” The investigation into that individual’s actions and whereabouts during the course of this crime has been thoroughly scrutinized. Based on surveillance video and current known evidence, the male is no longer being considered a person of interest, unless additional information or evidence comes to light.

As this investigation progresses, we continue to seek the public’s assistance. The victim was captured on video surveillance prior to the attack and investigators are providing a still capture of the footage in an effort to help potential witnesses who may have seen the victim on the day of the incident. She is described as a female Caucasian, approximately 5-02, 140 pounds, wearing a blue short sleeved shirt, black workout type pants and pink shoes with white soles. We are encouraging anyone who’s seen anything out of the ordinary, suspicious activity, or persons inside of the parking structure on May 03, 2018, between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call "Crime Stoppers" by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP, or “P3 Mobile” for the hearing impaired, on Google Play or the App Store, or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org


Victim Photo


Detectives are actively following multiple leads and will investigate all facets of this incident as they continue their investigation.

Lomita Station personnel are continuing their efforts to provide resources to the community, as well as working with community members and city officials to enhance public safety and awareness. The LASD will work to keep the public informed as the investigation moves forward.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - Facebook Live Update 

Yesterday, the City of Rolling Hills Estates and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department (LASD) jointly held a Facebook Live event regarding the Rolling Hills Estates homicide investigation. The intent was to provide the community with a summary of the incident, clarify some facts about the ongoing investigation, and demonstrate to the community how seriously we are all taking this shocking crime. Our thanks again to LASD for agreeing to participate on such short notice.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this live discussion, especially those who asked questions during the event and sent us direct messages on Facebook. RHE is working on improving the audio quality in the video and will make the recording available on this webpage: rhe.city/crimeupdate.

We realize there are many questions and concerns right now. There have been over 6,000 views of yesterday's Facebook Live video and over 1,050 Comments on it. The outpouring of engagement is a testament to how closely knit this community is and how much this senseless crime has affected us all. Working together with LASD, we will continue to make public safety our highest priority. We also hope everyone will understand that, since this is an active investigation, the LASD must follow their protocol and there are simply some details they cannot share at this time.

As details become available from LASD for public knowledge, the City of Rolling Hills Estates will make every effort to keep the community informed through our website at rhe.city/crimeupdate, our email notifications, our Facebook Page, our Nextdoor Agency Page, and/or our Instagram account. Please sign up for email notifications and/or Like & Follow our social media sites to receive those updates.

The Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone with information to call LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - Facebook Live event Hosted by the City of Rolling Hills Estates  

The City of Rolling Hills Estates will host a Facebook Live event at 6:00 PM regarding the investigation of last week's homicide at the Promenade on the Peninsula. The event will include individuals from LASD's Homicide Bureau, Lomita Sheriff's Station Captain Dan Beringer and Rolling Hills Estates City Manager Doug Prichard.  The video of the event will remain on Rolling Hills Estates' Facebook page after the live stream, and will also be posted on the City's website at www.rhe.city/crimeupdate

The City of Rolling Hills Estates has fielded many inquiries from the press related to the live event.  The message shared by the City and the Sheriff's Department (LASD) is that the media will not be allowed into the area where the event occurred since it is a tight space and and its is the intent of the event to stay focused on the community interests and questions.  This Facebook Live event is not prompted by any breaking news and is not meant to be a news conference.  Rather, it is a chance for the community to hear directly from City leadership and LASD, as well as to ask questions. The real message being conveyed is one of community transparency and a unique effort to engage the public in a medium they are used to using. The City of RHE allowed media to film B-roll footage before the live stream. The RHE City Manager will answer questions related to the why RHE decided to reach out to the community this way. Any questions about the status of the investigation will be referred to the Sheriff’s Department.


Monday, May 7, 2018 - Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Update

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide detectives continue to investigate the murder of a Rancho Palos Verdes resident, who was found stabbed in her parked vehicle on May 3, 2018, in the parking structure at 501 Deep Valley Drive, Rolling Hills Estates. Investigators are pursuing all possible leads, while the Sheriff’s Crime Lab continues to process and analyze physical evidence. The investigation into a person of interest, detained last Friday morning, also continues. He was transported to a suitable facility where he is receiving the appropriate level of care. No one has been named a suspect at this point, and no arrests for the crime have been made.

This type of crime in our community is highly unusual. We want to assure community members the Peninsula enjoys low crime and is a safe place. Some have expressed concern there was not an immediate lockdown of the area schools or surrounding shopping areas when the incident was first reported. Responding deputies had no immediate workable information as to the description of a suspect, a vehicle, or a direction of travel. Based upon the information we had at the time, an assessment was made regarding any immediate threat to public safety. There was no indication the suspect was still in the area, or that there was a threat to the surrounding schools and businesses. As the deputies canvassed the area for witnesses, this assessment continued.

As the investigation progresses, we still believe this to be an isolated incident. In the event any credible threat to public safety is identified, the information will be shared with the community immediately.

The Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone with information to call LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.


Saturday, May 5, 2018 - Los Angeles County Sheriff's Update   

On May 3, 2018, the tragic murder of a resident in your community occurred.  Lomita Station personnel, Homicide detectives along with support staff responded in order to investigate this crime.  Several biological and physical pieces of evidence from the crime scene were collected and are being processed.
 
During the preliminary stages of the investigation, a person of interest was developed.  That individual’s photo was placed on a flyer and distributed to various news outlets via the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.  Yesterday (May 4, 2018), the person of interest was located with the help of community members.
 
The person of interest was detained by law enforcement personnel and was subsequently arrested for an unrelated charge.  He was booked at Lomita Sheriff’s Station for the unrelated charge.   While in custody, the person of interest was interviewed by homicide detectives regarding the murder.  Pursuant to a warrant, the personal property of the person of interest was processed for any potential physical evidence.    
 
At the time of the interview, sufficient evidence was not present in order to warrant an arrest of the person of interest for the murder.  The examination of evidence obtained from him is on-going and he remains a person of interest.
 
Additionally, detectives are currently following up on several dozen leads which were developed through the investigation or provided to detectives by community members.  A public announcement of specific evidence collected or relevant information developed will be disseminated to the public when appropriate and beneficial to aid in a successful investigative outcome.  Premature exposure of unverified, unconfirmed, or non-collaborated information can be extremely detrimental to the overall success of the investigation.
 
Although this crime was violent in nature, and the motive remains unknown, the Peninsula remains one of the safest communities in the county of Los Angeles with the crime rate ranked as one of the lowest for areas policed by the Sheriff’s Department. However, it is imperative that community members remain vigilant and notify law enforcement of any observed suspicious activity.  
 
Detectives look forward to working with community members to find the perpetrator of this heinous crime and ensure justice for the victim and her family.  Please keep the family members directly affected by this event in your thoughts.
 
Please contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 with any information related to this crime.    

For original details of the incident use the following facebook link:
https://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment/posts/2186817428011825 


Friday, May 4, 2018  - Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Update

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Homicide Detectives distributed a photo of a person of interest in yesterday’s murder. Los Angeles Police Department detained a man matching the description at PCH and President Street in Harbor City within the last hour. The individual is now at Lomita Station. This is only a person of interest, who was possibly in the area of the shopping center yesterday. He has not been named as a suspect at this point in the investigation. If you have further information, please share with LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.


Thursday, May 3, 2018 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a crime scene in the parking structure of the Promenade on the Peninsula shopping center and are treating it as a homicide.