Person of Interest in Prominent Lawyer's Murder Had Lost a Court Battle With Him

Person of Interest in Prominent Lawyer's Murder Had Lost a Court Battle With Him
File photo by Chris Yarzab/Flickr

After nearly a decade investigating one of the most intriguing murders in post-millennial Southern California, detectives say they have a person of interest in the mob hit–style homicide of prominent attorney Jeffrey Tidus.

As the reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of his killer has swelled to $100,000, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department officials announced recently that they'd like to have a chat with 64-year-old Richard Wall, the owner of Welded Fixtures, a retail-display cabinet and shelving company in Whittier.

Wall was a losing defendant in a case in which Tidus' client alleged $1.3 million of his money was fraudulently transferred to Welded Fixtures. In fact, just a few weeks before the attorney was murdered, a California appeals court affirmed a lower-court ruling that Wall and his business were part of a fraudulent financial transaction.

Wall also was named by the Sheriff's Department as a person of interest in the Feb. 26, 2011, murder of Juan Mendez, who once worked at Welded Fixtures. Mendez sued Wall over unpaid overtime and won, sheriff's Det. Bob Kenney says. "One of the commonalities is that Mr. Mendez had a lawsuit against Mr. Wall and was successful," he says. "Before he collected, he was murdered."

Because of Tidus' involvement in litigation against Wall, investigators had been looking at him for some time, Kenney says. "We knew of him, but we recently got evidence that clearly places him in the middle of things," he says. Asked if Kenney was "in the wind," the detective says, "We suspect he is."

In 2013, police responding to a burglar alarm discovered an alleged 740-plant marijuana grow operation inside Wall's business, in the 8100 block of Byron Road. Kenney says he does not believe the alleged grow had anything to do with the Tidus or Mendez cases. An employee hung up when L.A. Weekly recently called Welded Fixtures.

Fifty-three-year-old Tidus, who often represented banks and other financial enterprises, was gunned down outside his home in the 4600 block of Sugarhill Drive in Rolling Hills Estates on Dec. 7, 2009. A single gunshot was heard, and his body was found behind his Toyota Prius, which was parked in his driveway.

He was struck by gunfire about 8:30 that night "after attending a fundraiser in Redondo Beach," according to the Sheriff's Department. "Jeffrey often brought work home with him. When he stepped out of his home to retrieve his work laptop computer from his vehicle, which was parked in his driveway, unknown assailant(s) came up from behind Jeffrey and shot him once in the head. He was transported to UCLA Harbor Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries the next day."

He is survived by wife Sheryl and daughter Ilana Tidus, detectives said.

Mendez was gunned down on Feb. 26, 2011, about 8:43 p.m., police said. The 35-year-old was shot multiple times at his apartment in the 8900 block of Painter Ave., in front of his 7-year-old daughter, investigators said. "The suspect is described as a fair-skinned male standing 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing 170 to 180 pounds," according to a Whittier police statement. "He was described as wearing blue jeans and a black coat with a hood."

Anyone with information on the cases was asked to call detectives at (323) 890-5500 or 800-222-8477.

A sketch of a person seen leaving the scene of the murder of Juan Mendez in Whittier
A sketch of a person seen leaving the scene of the murder of Juan Mendez in Whittier
Whittier Police Department

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