David Ben Keyes, Suspect in L.A. Area Homeless Stabbings Where 'Death Warrant' Notes Left at Scene
Santa Monica police say the stabbing last week of a homeless man could be connected to two similar attacks in Los Angeles in which "death warrant" notes were left at the scene of the crimes.
The beach city attack on a homeless man in his late 50s happened at a bus bench in the 500 block of Santa Monica Boulevard on Tuesday morning, Santa Monica Sgt. Richard Lewis told the Weekly. In all the cases the victims survived.
Cops were called to the scene at ...
... 5:40 a.m. after a witness reported that the victim was asking for help, he said: The man was found with a "single stab wound to his back."
View Larger Map
There was a note recovered from the scene similar to that of the LAPD's.
What LAPD note, you might ask?
The folks over at the department's media relations section were scrambling to gather data, and at least one detective on the case was busy giving an interview when we called, but here's what we found out:
A homeless person was stabbed in the back on July 4 at Third and Main streets downtown, the LAPD confirmed.
The Los Angeles Times, which broke the story, is reporting this:
In both those cases, and in one other, typed out "death warrants" were left at the scene, cops told the paper. In the other case on "Thursday" (not sure if they mean today or last week) ...
... a 54-year-old homeless woman was stabbed in the back as she slept near the intersection of La Brea and De Longpre avenues ...
The Times says cops have a suspect in mind, David Ben Keyes, who the paper says has been missing from the Santa Barbara area for some time.
We called the cops up there but they said they had never heard of him.
[Update at 3:16 p.m. Friday]: Last night the LAPD released a statement confirming that detectives are looking for Keyes.
Cops, however, called him a "person of interest" and avoided the term "suspect."
Keyes is actually an alias for as Courtney Anthony Robinson, according to the department. Detectives believe he's homeless. They say he came to L.A. from Santa Barbara.
Cops urged transients to seek shelter and beware. They noted that all three victims were white, but police did not say if they believe race was a motive. The crimes connected to the spree so far, according to the LAPD statement, include the following:
The first attempt murder occurred on July 3, 2012, around 1 a.m., near 3rd Street and Main Street in the Skidrow area of Los Angeles. A man, 50 years of age was stabbed in the back as he lay on the sidewalk. A witness described the possible suspect as a slender male Black.
The second stabbing occurred on July 17, 2012, around 5:30 am, near 6th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard in the City of Santa Monica. The male victim, 59 years of age was lying on a bus bench when he was stabbed in the back.
The most recent assault occurred early this morning, July 19, 2012, around 2:20 am, near La Brea Avenue and DeLongpre Avenue in Hollywood. A female victim was also stabbed in the back as she lay on the sidewalk.
Santa Barbara police released this photo of Keyes/Robinson:
If you think you might know where he is you were urged to call LAPD detectives at 213-486-6890 or Santa Barbara police at 805-897-2376.
[Added at 3:55 p.m. Friday]: LAPD Det. Chuck Knowles told the Weekly there was nothing about the case so far that would indicate that race was a motive. He called the fact that all the victims are white "a coincidence."
However, he said that once cops have a suspect in custody -- if he or she is of a different ethnicity than the victims --- they will ask if a racial hatred was a motivating factor.
[Update at 1:36 p.m. Monday]: Cops over the weekend say they nabbed Keyes/Robinson after someone reported sighting him about 8:40 p.m. Friday at Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard.
Police now say via press statement that he is their suspect:
Based on the interrogation and evidence recovered it was determined that Robinson is the individual responsible for the two homeless stabbings in LAPD's jurisdiction.
Cops also allege he can be tied to three other similar stabbings, one additional one in Santa Monica and two others in Santa Barbara.
He was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and was being held in lieu of a half-million-dollars bail.
[Update at 3:36 p.m. Monday]: The District Attorney's office this afternoon announced that Courtney Anthony Robinson (a.k.a. Keyes) was charged "with three counts of attempted murder with personal use of a knife and great bodily injury allegations ... "
Deputy District Attorney John Gilligan alleged in a statement that ...
... three homeless people, two men in their 50s and a woman in her 40s, were stabbed in the back while they were sleeping.
Arraignment was set for tomorrow downtown. The D.A.'s office is asking for bail to be increased to $3 million.
If convicted Robinson could face life behind bars.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.