Crime and Courts

Former college football star charged in slaying of mother’s boyfriend

Los Angeles Register, June 2014

Janzen Jackson was a prized young football player, a defensive back who donned an orange-and-white University of Tennessee uniform in 2009 after ranking among the top recruiting prospects in the nation.

On Friday, Jackson quietly entered a courthouse in downtown Los Angeles in a yellow shirt and blue pants issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and was charged with murder.

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Two men convicted of setting Glendora wildfire

Los Angeles Register, May 2014

They set out for the Colby Trail long after sunset, three friends determined to prolong their day together by embarking on an impromptu camping trip in the hills above Glendora.

Clifford Eugene Henry, Steven Robert Aguirre, and Jonathan Carl Jarrell carried no water or food, no sleeping bags or tents on their Jan. 15 excursion. Instead they hiked far into the foothills until they reached a flat sandy patch of land where they could light a campfire without attracting attention from the town below.

It was a choice that ended in disaster for Glendora residents – and for at least two of the men.

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Teenager headed to trial for grandparents’ killing in 2010

Los Angeles Register, May 2014

Police caught up with them in a little town outside of El Paso, Texas, just days after the bodies of Susan and Jack Bezner were found stabbed to death in their Rosemead home.

Prosecutors say Sophia Janalisa Cristo and her boyfriend Rodolfo Lopez made their failed getaway attempt after stabbing her grandparents to death early on the morning of Aug. 9, 2010.

She was 14. He was 21.

Tuesday, two days after Cristo’s 18th birthday, a judge found sufficient evidence to put Cristo on trial for murder. It was her second preliminary hearing – and the second time she has been charged in the deaths.

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Trial starts in 1982 cold case of Koreatown killings

Los Angeles Register, May 2014

Robin Grinnalds was sitting alone in the living room of her Koreatown apartment, when she heard what sounded like someone moaning and crying outside.

Stepping out onto her balcony, the law student looked about.

Though the window of a neighboring building, on the third or fourth floor, Grinnalds said, she saw a man engaged in a struggle, arms extended, pressing down on what appeared to be a pillow.

“I think I am seeing someone get murdered,” Grinnalds recalled telling a 911 operator.

It was just after midnight on Aug. 16, 1982. Within the next 24 hours, the bodies of two women would be discovered in that building.

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Peace and Joy took its own piece, prosecutors say

Los Angeles Register, April 2014

It was meant to be a place of refuge, a shelter where battered women could get the services they needed to break the cycle of violence.

But according to prosecutors, the now-shuttered Peace and Joy Care Center in Carson was also a vehicle for fraud and fake files to bill the county for close to $700,000 in services never provided.

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Former Compton firefighter pleads no contest in arson case

Los Angeles Register, April 2014

Firefighter. Hero. Reality TV star.

Marcel Dione Melanson of Torrance held many titles during his nearly 18 years with the Compton Fire Department, until 2011, when a fire broke out at the station under his watch. On Tuesday, the former battalion chief stood before a Superior Court judge in Los Angeles and accepted a new title: arsonist.

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Slain student had ‘smile that would melt an iceberg’

 Orange County Register, Dec. 18, 2010

PLACENTIA – Lynsie Ekelund was a bright young college student, a devout Christian with a love of animals and a physical handicap that left her both shy and deeply concerned for the welfare of others.

On Saturday, two months after authorities dug up her remains from a remote area of Santa Clarita, loved ones and concerned strangers came together at the Placentia Presbyterian Church to remember Ekelund not as the girl who disappeared, but as the girl with a “smile that would melt an iceberg.”

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Arrest dashes mother’s hope for daughter’s return

Orange County Register, Nov. 2, 2010

BREA – For nearly a decade, Nancy Ekelund held onto hope that one day her daughter would come home.

Then on Wednesday, nine years, nine months and 13 days after then-20 year-old Lynsie Ekelund disappeared, her mom received a phone call from the Placentia police: They had news.

“All the time I was driving home, I thought Lynsie was going to be standing there,” Ekelund said

Instead, police were waiting at Ekelund’s Brea home to tell her that nearly a decade after the Fullerton College student’s disappearance; they had arrested the man they believed was her killer.

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Crowd at council meeting demands answers in man’s death

Orange County Register, Sept. 21, 2010 

YORBA LINDA – An emotionally charged City Council meeting packed with supporters of Julian Collender, an armed robbery suspect killed by Brea police in June, ended in chaos Tuesday night, with family members shouting at police and sobbing uncontrollably.

More than 60 protesters, many of them bearing signs with Collender’s picture, attended the meeting in an attempt to pressure city officials to release information about the police shooting.

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