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Police looking for person of interest in homeless stabbings

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A wave of stabbings has hit the Southland's homeless population: in the past two weeks, three middle aged victims have been stabbed in the back as they slept, with the assailant leaving what police called a "death warrant" at the scene.

LAPD is looking for David Ben Keyes, possibly of Santa Barbara, a man they describe as a "person of interest" in the case. Police say Keyes' name was found on typewritten notes left at all three crime scenes — Skid Row on July 3, Santa Monica on July 17, and Hollywood on Thursday morning.

The three victims, one of whom remains in the hospital, survived the stabbings with non-life-threatening injuries. All three knives used in the stabbings were recovered. 

LAPD Commander Andrew Smith cautioned homeless folks to try to stay in shelters at night while police investigate the attacks. 

"We know that homeless people are vulnerable. They’re some of the most vulnerable people in our society. But it’s even worse when there’s an individual out like this who’s conducting these random acts of violence against homeless individuals," he said. "So please do what you can to get into shelter tonight until we catch this particular individual.”

He also said patrol officers have been instructed to alert homeless they encounter on their beats to the stabbings and caution them to stick together and to try to sleep indoors.

Because of the geographical range of the crimes, LAPD's Robbery Homicide division will handle the case.

Robbery-Homicide Captain Billy Hayes said the notes contained "statements, some ramblings," and Keyes' name. Witnesses to the stabbings described a "slender male" suspect who was wearing something on his head, police said.

On a Facebook page, a man named David Ben Keyes of Santa Barbara describes himself as "a musician and scribe."

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