By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Samuel was arrested at 5:25 p.m. on Friday, July 24, less than an hour after police believe he killed Burk, by LAPD horseback officer Gary Copeland. Copeland, assistant squad leader with Metro Division’s Mounted Platoon, arrested Samuel for being in possession of a crack pipe at Third and Los Angeles streets in Skid Row.
Copeland had no idea of the horrible crime Samuel allegedly had just committed. Riding his LAPD horse, Pepper, Copeland says he stopped Samuel for openly drinking a beer in public. Samuel gave the officer his name and agreed to a search, he says. Copeland found a crack pipe, a cell phone — and a key to a Volvo — in Samuel’s pockets. “Some people think these [lesser] arrests are meaningless, but sometimes this is a piece of a puzzle that puts it all together,” Copeland says.
Samuel told Copeland he had been living at a court-ordered drug-treatment facility south of downtown since June as part of his parole from prison, where he did time for robbery, burglary and petty theft. The Los Angeles Times reported that Samuel received a day pass from the drug-rehab house hours before the car-jacking.
Detectives told the Weekly they don’t know how Samuel ended up at the law school, but one obvious possibility is the Red Line subway with a Vermont Avenue entrance, which is just two blocks from the law school — and is a popular hangout for panhandlers.
Was the career criminal a panhandler at the Metro Red Line subway station at Vermont Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard? Or did he score dope at nearby MacArthur Park, where crack and other drugs are still sold despite major inroads by police? Nobody knows.
What police do know, based on video footage taken from a building in Little Tokyo downtown, is that at 3:35 p.m., about 30 minutes after her abduction from the school, Burk walked with Samuel up to a Union Bank on Second and San Pedro streets, where Burk tried, but failed, to extract money from an ATM using a credit card.
Deeply troubling to police and many others is the fact that the video — taken from a building near the bank — shows people walking past Burk and Samuel, and even shows a customer using the ATM as both walk away — yet Burk does not call out to them for help.
“Apparently nobody suspected anything,” says homicide Detective Al Marengo. Samuel did not appear to be dirty or homeless, Marengo says. In fact, from the video, “I can see [that] no one paid them any attention. ... You would have thought it was [just] two people walking up to the ATM.”
Marengo notes that during a robbery, “Most parents tell their kids to cooperate and do what they say and comply with what they want — and they will leave you alone. ... I don’t know what her parents instructed her to do in a situation like that.”
Close to 4 p.m., Burk called her parents, asking how to withdraw ATM money using a credit card. Burk’s parents told her that her card could not be used to get cash. At 4:52 p.m., police say Samuel parked Burk’s Volvo at 458 S. Alameda St., about five minutes away from the Little Tokyo Union Bank. Police believe that Burk, who was about to star in her school’s production of David Mamet’s The Boston Marriage, was already dead.