Los Angeles police officials said Monday they did what they could to protect a woman who investigators said was hunted down by her estranged husband at a friend's home and stabbed to death on a quiet West Hills street.
Officers with the Topanga Area station took two reports five hours apart in which the victim, Michelle Ann Kane, 43, said Michael Rodney Kane had broken the law, first by violating a temporary restraining order and then by vandalizing her home, police officials said.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said officers urged Kane to get out of her home and immediately call 911 if she encountered her husband, a Tarzana elementary school teacher.
“Our officers were very diligent in documenting all of the incidents that were brought to our attention,” Smith said. “Our officers made a great effort to protect the victim, but the law limits what we can do."
According to investigators, Michelle Kane sought refuge with her two small children at friends' home in West Hills. Michael Kane found out where she was staying, police said, and on Saturday morning pushed his way into the home.
Michelle Kane's friend tried unsuccessfully to restrain Michael Kane as the woman hid in a bathroom with her two children. Michelle Kane ran out of the house, but Michael Kane caught up to her and killed her, police said.
Michael Kane drove off before police arrived, touching off a manhunt until he was arrested early Monday morning at a motel in Joshua Tree. He is scheduled to be arraigned on murder charges Wednesday.
The day before Michelle Kane was slain, two reports were taken by LAPD officers, Smith said.
In the first report, of a violation of a temporary restraining order, officers documented "everything that occurred, including taking tape-recorded statements," Smith said.
As part of that interview, Michelle Kane provided officers with a tape recording of hers and reported an incident that took place Thursday outside the Topanga Area station in which, she said, her estranged husband made verbal threats toward her as the couple were involved in prearranged custody exchange.
Officers had advised Michelle Kane not to go back to her house and said to immediately call 911 if she felt threatened, Smith said.
Several hours later, officers responded to Michelle Kane’s home after a report that someone had smashed out windows. LAPD officers searched the location but found no one, Smith said. They also canvassed the neighborhood in an effort to locate a suspect, Smith said.
Kane and her neighbors were interviewed by police; their statements were incorporated in a felony vandalism report. Police said they were unaware of any further contacts until the slaying.
In court documents seeking the restraining order, Michelle Kane said her husband "has a long history of drug abuse" and she suspected he "has an undiagnosed bipolar disorder."
She said he had used heroin and methamphetamine in the past, and had been hospitalized in May "due to his suicidal thoughts brought on by what I believe to have been a combination of stress and drug use."
Smith could not immediately say how many domestic-related restraining order cases are being handled by the LAPD but said such cases are difficult because of limitations of the law.
"We make recommendations for shelter or alternative living arrangements to keep people safe. In this case, we also searched the house and the neighborhood looking for the suspect," Smith said. "But, tragically, incidents like this sometimes occur.”
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