Detectives release sketch of suspect in killings of La Verne couple

Authorities ask for help in identifying and finding a suspect in the slayings of an elderly La Verne couple

Detectives have released a sketch of a man they suspect of beating and stabbing an elderly couple to death in a blitz attack near the front door of the couple’s La Verne-area home.

Neighbors had noticed the man, whom detectives described as about 5 feet, 7 inches tall and in his late 20s or early 30s, walking nearby with a duffel bag or backpack.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials publicly labeled the man a suspect for the first time in the killings of Shirley Isom, 74, and Armie "Troy" Isom, 89, who owned a construction business.

Previous accounts described the man as possibly a transient. After the bodies were discovered Dec. 26, sheriff's deputies in helicopters and on horseback searched the Isoms’ 80-acre hilltop estate on Roughrider Road for signs of him.

Lt. Dave Coleman said Wednesday that the suspect was dressed more like a hiker than a homeless person. Surveillance cameras captured him near the gate to the property shortly after the murders, which occurred about 1 p.m., Coleman said.

Coleman said there is physical evidence tying the man to the murders, but he would not elaborate.

Eyewitness accounts and surveillance footage show that the suspect walked away from the house and down Live Oak Canyon Road toward the 210 Freeway, he said.

Wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and jeans, the suspect moved briskly and "with a purpose," according to Coleman.

Coleman declined to address media reports that the Isoms had allegedly been receiving threats from family members who wanted access to their money, saying only that detectives are examining "all aspects of the Isoms' personal, professional and business life." A former in-law had filed multiple lawsuits against the Isoms, according to CBS Los Angeles.

Coleman described the attack as "very brutal" but said detectives are not ready to say whether the attack was random or if the Isoms were targeted by someone they knew.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

For more Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department news, follow @CindyChangLA.

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