Transients lured Good Samaritan to Los Angeles hotel room to dismember body in ‘ritualistic killing’: prosecution

A meth-addled transient couple had a “long-held fantasy of dismembering” a body before they finally carried out the 2010 “ritualistic killing” of a Los Angeles do-gooder at a skid row hotel, a prosecutor said at the start of a trial for the sickening murder. Edward and Melissa Hope Garcia are accused of luring 49-year-old Herbert Tracy White to the Continental Hotel early Nov. 28, 2010, before torturing him with a knife, cutting off his arms and shoving his severed torso under the room’s bed. White’s badly mutilated body was nearly drained of blood, prosecutors said. “Blood-shedding and bloodletting was part of the motivation for this crime,” Deputy Dist. Atty. John McKinney said in court, according to the Los Angeles Times. White, a former cocaine addict and alcoholic-turned-Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, frequently helped strangers he met that happened to be down on their luck, according to his wife. The Garcias called him that fateful early morning and White jumped out of bed to go help the couple, who had traveled to Los Angeles from the York, Pa., area. "He said, 'I'll see you tomorrow.' That's the last I saw of him," wife Annie Coty-White said at the time of the killing. Prosecutors, though, painted a different picture, framing the meet-up as a drug-and-sex driven rendezvous initiated by White. The murder victim brought two baggies to Room 66 at the hotel and signed in under a false name, telling hotel security that Melissa Garcia was his girlfriend, defense attorney Haydeh Takasugi told the court. Investigators found a bottle of lubricant inside the hotel room - the same brand White kept at his home, the public defender said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about you guys,” White allegedly told the couple during a prior meeting, before turning to Melissa and adding, “I couldn’t stop thinking of you.” The couple allegedly bound White before taking a Continue Reading

Joni Mitchell in intensive care at Los Angeles hospital after being found unconscious at home: report

Folk-music icon Joni Mitchell is in intensive care at a Los Angeles hospital after being found unconscious in her home Tuesday night, according to website and Twitter account. "Joni is currently in intensive care in an LA area hospital but is awake and in good spirits," her official Twitter account posted around midnight. A statement on her website said: "Light a candle and sing a song, let's all send good wishes her way." It remains unclear what prompted the medical emergency. Paramedics went to the 71-year-old singer’s house after getting a 911 call for an unconscious female, TMZ reported. Mitchell reportedly regained consciousness on the way to the hospital. The Canadian-born Mitchell, who epitomizes the Woodstock generation, has had a long history of health problems, surviving polio and scarlet fever as a child. She was diagnosed several years ago with Morgellons disease, a rare condition that causes people to experience a crawling and biting sensation to the skin. “Fibers in a variety of colors protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm,” Mitchell told New York magazine in February. “They cannot be forensically identified as animal, vegetable, or mineral.” The winner of eight Grammy awards, Mitchell is best known for her hits “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Woodstock” and “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio.” She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. On a mobile device? Click here to watch the video. With Jason Silverstein Continue Reading

Andrew Getty, grandson of Getty Oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, dies of traumatic rectal injury in Los Angeles home

The grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty was found dead in his L.A. home Tuesday with an injury to his rectal area, likely the result of an accident or from natural causes, the coroner confirmed. Andrew Getty, 47, was found naked from the waist down in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home around 2 p.m. with significant bleeding to his rectal area after suffering blunt-force trauma, a police source told the Los Angeles Times. It's unclear how the injury was caused. While the death appeared to be from natural causes, it was called an accident because of medication found at the scene, Los Angeles County coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter said. "The tentative information that we do have is that he was not feeling good for the last couple months," Winter said. "And he supposedly had an appointment tomorrow with a personal physician." Getty had severe stomach problems and suffered painful bowel movements over the weekend, TMZ reported. His ex-girlfriendcalled 911 reporting that he was suffering from cardiac arrest, the site said. Getty's parent’s Ann and Gordon Getty confirmed his death in a statement. “The family has requested that members of the media and the public respect its privacy during this extremely difficult time,” a family spokesman said in the statement. Getty had a restraining order against his former flame, and the unidentified woman had been placed under psychiatric care in the past after injuring cops when they responded to the house. Representatives from the Los Angeles County coroner's office were seen at the sprawling home Tuesday afternoon. Getty bought the 70-year-old villa in 1996. It was once the home of three-time Oscar-winning film composer Miklos Rozsa. Police have been called to the residence 31 times, mostly for domestic disturbances, and have found drugs at the house in the past, according to TMZ. Getty’s father, Continue Reading

Los Angeles ban on new fast food restaurants has had zero effect: new study

Politicians still working to ban large sugary drinks in New York might want to take note — a Los Angeles ban on new fast food restaurants has had zero effect on residents’ health, a new study found. In 2008, saying that unhealthy food chains create “serious public health problems through poor nutrition for children,” the Los Angeles City Council passed a zoning regulation stopping new, stand-alone fast food restaurants from opening up in parts of South L.A. Obesity has spiked in the neighborhoods covered by the ban in the meantime, according to a Rand Corporation report released on Thursday. “Really folks: back to the drawing board. If you want to do something about obesity, think again,” said Rand Corp Senior Economist Roland Sturm. Researchers found that the percentage of obese LA residents has increased everywhere since 2007, but had a bigger rise in the areas where the fast-food ban was in effect, according to an analysis of UCLA data. Because the ban focused on stand-alone restaurants only, and not those opening in places like strip malls, it had little actual impact on the street level, the study found. Still, there is one bright spot in the analysis, Sturm said. “There’s a decline in soft drink consumption. It has gone down everywhere. That, I think reflects a national phenomenon,” he said. While the courts overturned Mayor Bloomberg’s large sugary drink ban in 2012, Mayor de Blasio has said he supports a ban and is working to find a way to limit the size of New Yorkers’ sodas. Continue Reading

Boy, 11, dies after dad accidentally drives family car into Los Angeles harbor

An 11-year-old boy died and his 8-year-old brother is clinging to life after they were trapped in a car that sank to the bottom of a Los Angeles harbor, police said. The tragedy happened after their dad accidentally accelerated the car with the two boys and their mother near the Ports O'Call, LAPD Officer Jack Richter told the Daily News. The vehicle flew over the edge of the pier and landed in the water at 6:10 p.m. The parents were able to escape quickly and swim to the surface as their sons descended into the murky water, police said. Emergency responders arrived at the scene in minutes, but officers were frustrated that they were not immediately equipped to dive 30 feet to save the kids, Richter said. "The parents were already out screaming their kids were in the car ... but nobody could do anything. The water was too deep for anybody to do nothing," witness Sal Terzoli told ABC7. Fire department divers struggled to extricate the boys because the crash had upended silt, making visibility "very difficult," LAFD Deputy Chief Daren Palacios told KTLA. The boys were finally pulled out of the car by 6:45 p.m. The 11-year-old boy died at the scene and the 8-year-old was taken to the hospital, Richter said. He was listed in grave condition Friday morning. "It's a tragic situation," Richter said. "It was a tough day for everybody." The boy's parents were "hysterical," and it was traumatic for officers because many have their own children, Richter said. Richter said he was not sure where the family was heading before the accident but noted Berth 73, the site of the accident, is a popular area for dining. Police do not expect to file charges against the parents, Richter said. The parents were listed in fair condition at a hospital Thursday night. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Los Angeles woman used 74 aliases for identity thefts: authorities

She apparently used a fake name one too many times. A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy arrested Cathryn Parker, 72, last month when she allegedly stated the wrong name during a traffic stop, the Los Angeles Times reported. But, when detectives based in the force’s Lancaster station investigated further, they discovered Parker, also known as “Katherine Gonsalves” and “Jan,” has employed about 74 different aliases in identity theft crimes committed over the past four years, the sheriff’s department announced on Friday. Authorities allege she stole seven people’s identities and used falsified names to rent properties, pay utilities, obtain credit cards and promote fraudulent fundraising events, according to the Times. The Hollywood resident allegedly preyed on staffers from the area’s film sets to carry out her schemes, Detective Danny Gore told the Times. “It’s like a way of life. I don’t know that there was an end,” Gore said. “You have to be dedicated. You and I go to work in the morning and spend eight, 10 or 12 hours. I guess if you’re in the identity theft business and it's your job, in a sense she went to work.” The suspected identity thief is currently behind bars for federal probation violations, according to the sheriff’s department. Parker was convicted of mail fraud in 2000 after she allegedly used a corporate account to buy plane tickets and then sold them off for $500 a pop, the Times reported. But investigators believe she “victimized other people and organizations including well-known people in the entertainment industry,” and they’ve asked for members of the public to notify them if they believe they’ve suffered crimes at her hands or can pass on information about the suspect, Gore wrote in the release. Follow on Twitter @tobysalkc Join the Continue Reading

SEE IT: Video reveals terrifying moments before Harrison Ford’s plane crashed on a Los Angeles golf course

The Force must have been with Harrison Ford for him to have survived crash-landing a vintage airplane on a California golf course. The “Star Wars” legend was lucky to be alive after engine trouble forced him to down his World War II-era plane on a fairway at a municipal course in the Los Angles area on Thursday. He clipped a tree on the way down. Ford’s son, Ben, tweeted Thursday night that his father was “battered, but OK!” His injuries were described as serious but not life-threatening. The 72-year-old actor, who is a trained pilot, took off from Santa Monica Airport in a 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR about 2 p.m. It was a solo flight. Roughly 20 minutes after takeoff, he was at about 3,000 feet when engine trouble led him to ditch the aircraft at the Penmar Golf Course in Venice, Calif., a source close to the investigation told the Daily News. “He had no other choice but to make an emergency landing, which he did,” a spokeswoman for Ford said in a statement, explaining that the actor’s plane stalled shortly after taking off from the airport. Air-traffic control audio captured the star reporting engine failure and requesting an “immediate return” to the airport just before going down around 2:30 p.m. local time. A cell phone video obtained by KNBC-TV shows the single-engine plane soaring over the treetops in Venice before it suddenly disappeared in the distance. "Oh no," one person said. "I hope he's going to make it." Ford's plane hit a tree on the way down, local officials said. A man who was playing on the golf course at the time, Jeff Kuprycz, said Ford's plane "banked sharply to the left" then dropped from the sky. "There was no explosion or anything," he said, according to the Associated Press.  Ford was wheeled from the scene on a stretcher. He reportedly suffered multiple broken Continue Reading

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talks Los Angeles stadium projects, domestic violence and rumored Dez Bryant video

Surrounded by his team of personal conduct experts, a somewhat subdued Roger Goodell answered questions Friday from Associated Press Sports Editors that ranged from the viability of two stadium projects that would return the NFL to Los Angeles, to what he has learned from a tumultuous year trying to help the league — and himself — rebound from charges of insensitivity to domestic abuse issues, to whether investigators looked into rumors of an unflattering Dez Bryant video (they did, but could not find a evidence of a video.) Goodell, who met with the group at the NFL's Park Ave. headquarters, said the two stadium projects in the L.A. area look promising enough to lead to the return of the NFL to the nation's second-largest city. He called the projects in Englewood and Carson "viable," and said they have a "great deal of potential to be successful." St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is involved in the Englewood project, while the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have combined to work on the Carson proposal. Goodell also acknowledged there is some urgency in the matter. The league has not had a franchise in Los Angeles since the 1994 season. Often turning to his advisers to expand on his answers, Goodell also dealt with questions about the league's progress on personal conduct issues, including horrific domestic violence cases involving Ray Rice, who has been reinstated to the NFL following a suspension after a video emerged of him striking his wife in an Atlantic City hotel elevator, Greg Hardy, who will serve a 10-game suspension to start the season for domestic violence, and Adrian Peterson, who was indicted and suspended for reckless injury to a child, but has been reinstated. Goodell's team consists of V.P. of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson, special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel, special counsel for conduct Todd Jones, V.P. and general counsel Jeff Pash, and Jeff Miller, who is in charge of Player Health & Safety. Continue Reading

Chargers, Raiders one step closer to Los Angeles move as Carson City council approves $1.7B NFL stadium

CARSON, Calif. — The ball now belongs to the Raiders, the Chargers, the Rams — and the NFL. A second City Council has approved a second proposed pro football stadium in the Los Angeles area, putting local issues to rest in the NFL’s return to the region and leaving the next move in the hands of the teams that would seek to relocate and the league that must give its final approval. MYERS: TOP 10 NFL GAMES TO WATCH IN 2015 The latest significant step was Tuesday night’s 3-0 vote from the Carson City Council, which cleared the path for a $1.7 billion stadium that could become the shared home to the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders. It was intended to lure the NFL back to the Los Angeles area after two-decades without a team in the nation’s second-largest media market. Under current rules, the next opportunity for a team to file to relocate, either to the Carson stadium or the nearby proposed stadium in Inglewood, would be in January 2016. Any decision to move would have to clear a tangle of league hurdles, including winning the support of at least 24 of the 32 teams. Carson Mayor Albert Robles likened the absence of the NFL in greater Los Angeles to the state’s deep drought. “There are two things that are needed here in Southern California,” Robles said after the vote. “One of them is rain ... the other is football. And today, hopefully, we took care of that, because football is coming to Carson.” RELATED: 49ERS PLAYER: JIM HARBAUGH 'MIGHT BE CLINICALLY INSANE' The vote came with a loud cheer from a crowd dotted with Raiders jerseys and Chargers banners, and faced virtually no opposition from the room. Mike Haynes, who played for the then-LA Raiders in their 1984 Super Bowl title year and also grew up in the area, spoke strongly in favor of the stadium. “It might not be too Continue Reading

Los Angeles school officials upset over Justin Bieber’s prom-crashing stunt

Biebs is getting an "F" for attendance. Los Angeles school official are ticked at Justin Bieber for crashing a high school prom over the weekend, saying the pop star only managed to reach the dance floor after his entourage muscled their way past school security. "The school was aware that Mr. Bieber was at the venue recording, but was assured that he would not come out to interfere with the program," L.A. schools district spokesman Ellen Morgan told Yahoo! Music. "His entourage pushed past the school's security to gain access to the dance floor and was there for three to four minutes," Morgan added. Bieber was at a recording studio near Chatsworth Charter High School on Saturday when he decided to make the unannounced cameo, sending the teenage prom-goers into a shrieking, selfie-snapping frenzy. Vine videos from the scene showed the "Baby" singer clearly reveling in the moment, smiling and putting his hands in the air as groups of fame-delirious teens swarmed. "He was in the area and heard and just crashed," a rep told Yahoo! Music. Afterwards, several promgoers gushed about the moment on social media and thanked Bieber for making it a night to remember. Morgan, meanwhile, conceded that it was a "once in a lifetime experience" for the teens, but suggested that Biebs was lucky no one was hurt. "From the students' perspective it was a once in a lifetime experience to have him at their prom, but we were extremely concerned for the safety of both our students as well as Mr. Bieber," she told Yahoo!. "No student was injured while he was there," she said. Continue Reading