LA County officials charge murder suspect with more killings

L.A. County Sheriff Baca and other officials at a news conference in Monterey Park. Authorities announced they charged murder suspect John Wesley Ewell with more killings.
L.A. County Sheriff Baca and other officials at a news conference in Monterey Park. Authorities announced they charged murder suspect John Wesley Ewell with more killings. Corey Moore/KPCC

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives say a suspect in two recent murders may have two more victims. Prosecutors are filing more charges.

Sheriff’s detectives initially linked 53 year-old John Wesley Ewell to last month’s killing of a married couple in Hawthorne - Robyn and Leamon Turnage.

Investigators say Ewell used the Turnages’ ATM card – and that helped them connect the LA man neighbors called "a nice guy” to two more murders - 80 year-old retiree Hanna Morcos of Hawthorne and 53 year-old Denice Roberts of LA. Roberts apparently lived near Ewell.

Investigators suspect Ewell passed himself off a utility worker or handyman to get inside homes. Sheriff’s Lieutenant David Coleman said he’d rob the people inside – then kill them.

“We also know that some of the property that Ewell stole in the burglaries and the murders was pawned at various locations," Coleman reported. "We’re asking the assistance of pawn operators who may recognize Mr. Ewell from the photographs or his vehicles. Also to contact the Sheriff’s Department with the possibility that he may have frequented their pawn shops.”

The crimes happened over the span of about a month - from September to October. Detectives say Ewell took jewelry and other valuables. They say they don’t know what may have prompted Ewell’s alleged murder spree. What they do know is that Ewell is an ex-convict with an extensive arrest history for armed robbery.

Ewell is in jail without bail. He’s due in court for arraignment at the end of the month.

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