Tag Archives: Murder

First Investigative Genetic Genealogy Case Filed in Los Angeles County Involves Burbank Murder in 1986

A 1986 Burbank cold case murder from 1986 may have finally found justice the Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. office announced on Friday.

Mary Duggan, a 22-year-old from Reseda, was found murdered in the trunk of her 1980 Ford Mustang you you near the intersection of Glenoaks and Cohasset on June 9, 1986. Burbank Police Detective Craig Ratliff, pending investigation headed the investigation at the time.

The LA County coroner’s office at the time ruled that she died of asphyxia and also had nonlethal levels of cocaine and alcohol in her bloodstream.

LA County district attorney Jackie Lacey has charged Horace Van Vaultz Junior, 64 with the killing of Duggan, connecting the suspect through genealogy match. The technology also linked the 1981  murder of Selena cloth in Montclair to Van Vaultz.

Because of the multiple counts of murder, the defendant faces is a death penalty or life in prison without the possibly parole if convicted as charged. According to a press release, that determination will be made later.

“Thanks to advances in technology and forensics, we are now able to virtually reach back in time and find those responsible for these vicious crimes,” District Attorney Lacey said in the release. She also added, “With dedicated resources and rapidly advancing technology, we can unmask the cowardly murderers who have remained hidden in our community and bring justice to the grief-stricken families who have waited too long for answers,”

The case still remains under investigation by the Burbank Police Department and if you have any information about the case of the defendant you may contact the Burbank Police Department the other tip line at 818 238 – 3086. The FBI’s forensic genetic genealogy team also assisted in the investigation.


Burbank Police Arrest Two in Homicide Investigation

Release supplied by Burbank Police Dept.

Two men have been arrested in connection with the March 2nd shooting death of 21-year-old Christian Guevara.

The shooting occurred in the early morning hours of March 2, 2019 in the 4000 block of West Clark Avenue. At about 2:36 A.M., Burbank Police Officers responded to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank after a man was brought into the emergency room suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim, identified as Guevara, was transported to a local trauma center, but died as a result of his wound.

Investigators learned that Guevara had attended a party at the residence where the shooting took place. In the course of the investigation, Burbank Police Detectives identified a person of interest in the shooting. That individual was interviewed by investigators and confessed to shooting the victim. The motive and circumstances leading up to the shooting are still being investigated.

The suspect has been identified as Robert Stout, a 19-year-old man from Van Nuys. On March 4, Stout was placed under arrest and booked for murder. He is currently being held on $2 million bail.

In addition, a second suspect has also been arrested for his involvement in the crime. That suspect has been identified as Jose Valdivieso, a 19-year-old man from Northridge. Valdivieso was also booked for murder and is being held on $2 million bail.

The gun believed to have been used in the shooting has been recovered by investigators.

Formal charges against both suspects are pending review by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

3 Dead Bodies Found in Car, Homicide Investigation Begins

On Tuesday, April 17 at 7:10 a.m., a Burbank Police Parking Control officer was investigating a violation and discovered a dead body inside of a parked vehicle on the 1300 block of S. Varney St.

1300 Blk of Varney. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

After paramedics arrived at the scene, a total of three bodies were found inside the car, all pronounced dead. The deceased are said to be adults, and one is a


“At this time, the investigation is being treated as a homicide. Detectives and Forensic Examiners are on-scene and are awaiting the arrival of the Los Angeles County Coroner/Medical Examiner,” said Sgt. Derek Green.

“The Burbank Police Department is aware of information circulating online regarding missing individuals from the Bakersfield area. At this time, identifications of the deceased have not been made.”

The parked vehicle is believed to be a red Jeep with Tennessee license plates. It is unclear how long the car had been parked where it was found.

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Investigators have speculated that the victims were killed at a separate location and they might have been “dumped” on S. Varney St. If this is the case, the Burbank Police Department is likely to face a jurisdictional issue as agencies will become involved in the investigation.

Police are currently looking into surveillance cameras throughout the area for footage that might shed light on what happened.


UPDATE 4/19 1:14 p.m. – The three victims have been confirmed to be three caucasian men. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has identified one of the victims as Jan Carlos Amiana.

UPDATE 4/19 6:00 p.m. – Burbank Police Investigators have started to work with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to follow up on information regarding a property on the 5200 block of Stone Ave., located in Riverside, CA. The location was secured by Riverside County Sheriff’s personnel pursuant for a search warrant and a search was carried out this morning. Early this afternoon, investigators determined there was evidence from the search that the three deceased men were victims of a crime. The Riverside County Central Homicide Unit is now leading the investigation.

UPDATE 4/23 – Both of the other victims have been identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office with the same cause of death. Lucas Josh Amiana, 23 of Bakersfield, was the brother of the first victim identified, Jan Carlos Amiana, 21 of Bakersfield. The brothers were reported missing last week while traveling to Riverside to visit a friend. The third victim is Carlos Lopez, 32. All three men died of gunshot wounds to the head on April 17, 2018.


Murder Behind Stock Lumber is Now LAPD’s Problem

On April 28, 2016, at about 12:35pm, the Burbank Police Department responded to the 600 block of Victory Boulevard regarding a dead body wrapped in plastic. Officers found the victim, Nshan Balyan, deceased and initiated a homicide investigation.

The LA County Coroner has determined Balyan died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.

Burbank Police Detectives conducted numerous follow-up interviews, and surveillances, which culminated in the service of a search warrant in the 6700 block of Orion Avenue, in the community of Van Nuys early Saturday morning. Evidence was recovered and additional people were interviewed at the Van Nuys home.

One person, 33 year-old Hector Balcacer, was arrested at the home for an unrelated charge of receiving stolen property. He was booked into the Burbank City Jail on $200,000 bail and is due to appear in court Tuesday morning.

Burbank Police Investigators have determined the homicide did not occur in Burbank, but rather in the City of Los Angeles. Thus, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department, Operations-Valley Bureau Homicide Division, have assumed control of the investigation. Burbank Police investigators will continue to work with their colleagues at LAPD to ensure continuity and ultimately work towards a successful prosecution of Balyan’s killer(s).

Body Found Wrapped in Plastic Identified as Murder Victim

The Burbank Police Department has released more information regarding the body found wrapped in plastic near the railroad tracks behind the business at 600 bock of N. Victory Blvd. Thursday.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

A body wrapped in plastic was found Thursday near the tracks in the 600 block of N. Victory (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Police began conducting a suspicious death investigation. The person’s feet were exposed, but no other part of the body was visible. At the time officers were unable to determine the gender, race or age of the deceased.

Police have now identified the victim as 30 year-old North Hollywood resident Nshan Balyan, was found in the open field.

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office removed the man’s body from the scene late last night and transported him to their facility where the plastic was unwrapped and the identification was made via fingerprints. An autopsy is pending, as is the cause of death.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The train tracks are located next to Stock Building Supply. Police are looking through surveillance cameras in the area for clues (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The Burbank Police Department is handling this case as a homicide investigation. Detectives do not believe Balyan was killed at the location he was found and have yet to determine where Balyan died.

Detectives have located several surveillance cameras in the area and are currently reviewing the footage for images that would assist in the investigation.

This is an on-going investigation. Further details will be released as they become available.

Anyone with information on this incident is urged to contact Detective Mike Edwards at (818) 238-3210 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477) to remain anonymous.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Members of the media interview Burbank Police Sergeant Claudio Losacco at a press conference on Thursday (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Man Arrested For Murder of Mother

Burbank Police gather at the apartment of a woman who was allegedly killed by her son Monday night (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Police gather at the apartment of a woman who was allegedly killed by her son Monday night (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Moises Diaz, age 40, was arrested on Monday, January 20, for the alleged murder of his mother, Maria Diaz, age 77, after her body was found in the south alley of 4000 W. Victory Blvd., between N. Evergreen St. and Pass Avenue. Burbank Police responded to a call placed at 10:41 a.m. about a person possibly sleeping in the alley. Upon arrival, officers found the body of the mother, already deceased, according to Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department.

News media at the scene on Victory (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

News media at the scene on Victory (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

The cause of death is pending an autopsy by the L.A. County Coroner’s office. After an investigation by the Burbank Police Monday, Diaz was arrested for the murder of his mother, just a few hours after the discovery of her body. Mother and son had been living together in a Burbank apartment, according to the statement released by Ryburn Monday evening.

Sgt. Darrin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Dept. briefs reporters at the main Police Station Monday night to announce the arrest. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Sgt. Darrin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Dept. briefs reporters at the main Police Station Monday night to announce the arrest. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Diaz was booked for murder and continues to be held in the Burbank Jail on $1,000,000 bail. Burbank Police ask for anyone who may have been in the south alley of 4000 W. Victory Blvd. between 6:00 p.m. Sunday, January 19, and 10:00 a.m. Monday, January 20, to call the BPD at 818-238-3210.

This is the first murder in Burbank in over a year with the still unsolved shooting of Antwan Haroun, who was shot in his doorway the evening of October 11, 2012 on East Providencia Ave. and when police charged the parents of a baby girl with murder after the baby’s death on November 9, 2012.

Photographer Ross A. Benson contributed to this report.

Police tow a car from the residence (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Police tow a car from the residence (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Police spent a majority of the day at the apartment where the suspect lived with his mother on Victory Blvd. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Police spent a majority of the day at the apartment where the suspect lived with his mother on Victory Blvd. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)



Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s Father Killed in His Home

LAPD dectectives are still collecting evidence at the scene of Joseph Gatto’s home in Silver Lake after the father of Burbank Assemblyman Mike Gatto was found murdered at the house.

Gatto was found slumped over a chair with an apparent gunshot wound according to police at the scene.  The former nationally recognized art teacher who has been recognized by the White House on three separate occasions. Since his retirement as a teacher, he has been working out of his home creating artwork and jewelry.

Assemblyman Gatto was in Sacramento at the time of the incident. His Communication Director, Justin Hager, issued the following statement, “Joseph Gatto was a retired art teacher and (post-retirement) a jewelry craftsman. He was 78.  The Assemblyman learned of his death by phone in Sacramento.  He is absolutely devastated.  The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating, and Assemblyman Gatto thanks them for their kindness and thoroughness.”

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement regarding the death of Gatto’s death, “Anne and I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Gatto family in this time of mourning.”

“My heart goes out to the Gatto Family. Joseph Gatto was a friend to all in the neighborhood. My prayers are with the family.” said Los Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge.

California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez released the following statement, “This is a terrible time for Assemblymember Gatto and his family. Those of us in Mike’s Assembly family are keeping the Gattos in our thoughts and prayers. We have faith the Los Angeles Police Department will find the answers to this senseless crime.”

It is the first reported murder in Silver Lake this year according to Los Angeles Police Department reports.


Mother Arrested For Murder After Abused Baby Girl Dies From Injuries

The mother of an baby girl has been arrested for murder after the baby died from injuries allegedly inflicted by her father.  The father, who is already in jail, has also been charged with murder.

Burbank Police became involved in the case on October 23, when doctors at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles suspected that the five week-old infant’s injuries were the result of abuse. The baby was being treated for swelling of the brain, and had several broken bones.  She was taken off life support ad succumbed to her injuries on November 9.

The 19 year-old father, Matthew Wojcik of Burbank was initially arrested for child abuse, and remained in custody.  Following the baby’s death, his charges were amended to include murder and child abuse causing death.  At the time of his arrest, the baby’s mother was not arrested.

According to Lt. Ed Ruiz of the Burbank Police Department, “After the baby’s death, and the completion of our department’s investigation, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office decided to charge the mother, Elizabeth Carter, 21, of Burbank, with murder.”   It is believed that the mother was present when the baby was being abused.   Carter is being held in jail in lieu of $130,000 bail.  She is due in court on November 27.

Burbank Man Murdered Thursday Night

A Burbank man was shot and killed Thursday night outside his home on Providencia Ave.  This is the first homicide in Burbank since June, 2011.

Burbank Police closed down Providencia, across from Miller Elementary School while their investigation was taking place until the early morning hours on Friday (Photo By Nick Colbert)

Police responded to 715 E. Providencia Ave. after receiving calls of shots being fired at 10:48 p.m.  The first units arrived within two minutes.  They found the victim near the rear of the apartment building near the alley.  Fire department paramedics were also dispatched.  They were held back a block away until police could determine that the scene was safe for them to enter.

The victim, Antwan Haroun, 43, was transported by Rescue Ambulance 11 to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.    He died at the hospital from his injuries.

At least one witness reported seeing two men running down the alley between Providencia and Santa Anita Ave., and getting into a car.  Another saw two men run into the grounds of Joaquin Miller Elementary School, which is located across the street from the crime scene.   Police do not believe the victim had any gang ties.  The investigation is ongoing.

The victim was found at the rear of this apartment building at 715 E. Providencia after police received the call at 10:48 pm (Photo By Nick Colbert)

According to police, they have not determined a motive for the murder, and have no suspects at this time.  They are seeking the public’s help.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Lamoureaux at 818-238-3246.

BurbankNBeyond will have updates on this story as the information becomes available.

Burbank Police Arrest Husband After Wife Is Found Dead In Valley St. Home

(above)Coroner officials remove the body of 65 year-old Marie Brancato at 815 N. Valley St. Tuesday. (below) Burbank Police Sergeant of Detectives Tony DeSantis and Officer Steve Buteyn investigate the area surrounding the murder (Photos By Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Police were called shortly after 2 am on Tuesday morning, July 5, to 815 N. Valley Street to assist the Burbank Fire Department with a possible medical emergency.  Burbank Fire personnel pronounced 65 year-old Marie Brancato dead at the scene.
During the initial investigation, officers observed that the female victim had been bleeding profusely from what appeared to be a traumatic injury to the back of her head. Further investigation led to the arrest of the victim’s husband, identified as seventy-year-old Burbank resident Joseph Robert Brancato.

Brancato was booked for 187(a) P.C. and he is currently being held at the Glendale Jail in lieu of $ 1,000,000 bail.

The case will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for filing consideration.

This is the first homicide in Burbank since April of 2009.

Burbank police begin their investigation shortly after 2 am after being called to 815 N. Valley by Paramedics who reported suspicious circumstances upon their arrival. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)