Neighborhood Mobilizes After Double Slaying

Times Staff Writer

Glendale police will close a one-block section of Stanley Avenue Friday night and hold a special meeting of the area Neighborhood Watch to help ease the fears of residents after the slaying of a couple in their home last weekend.

Two other, unrelated violent deaths--another killing and a suicide--made it the deadliest weekend in Glendale in at least nine years, police said.

Maxson Carl Kneiding, 68, an Eagle Rock service station owner, and his wife, Lela Ellen, 66, were found shot to death in bed in their Stanley Avenue home Saturday morning. Police said that they had no suspect or motive, but that there is a possibility the couple was killed by a burglar.

"The leads are not much, not much at all," said Lt. Wayne Williams, who is heading the investigation.

The Neighborhood Watch meeting will be held on the block where the Kneidings lived in a small white house with a red-tile roof in a quiet neighborhood with neatly trimmed lawns and evenly spaced shade trees.

Residents Seek Protection

Sgt. Steve Campbell of the Glendale Police Department Crime Prevention Bureau said he expects a large turnout Friday because he has received several calls from residents asking what they can do to protect themselves.

"This kind of thing always shakes a neighborhood up," Campbell said. "Just a burglary alone will do that, let alone what has happened out there."

Campbell and a detective on the Kneidings' case will answer questions about the killings and tell residents how to make their homes safer.

"We want people to know this is not something that happens every day in our town. It is not necessarily going to happen again," Campbell said.

There were no witnesses to the Kneidings' deaths, police said. Their bodies were found by a daughter in the morning. Jan Espinoza, who lives next door, said she woke up to the sound of a woman crying and screaming, "They've been shot, they've been shot!"

Espinoza's husband, Jimmy, said he no longer feels secure enough to leave the windows open on hot nights, as he did the night the Kneidings were killed, and he is thinking of buying a handgun.

"I don't want to do that," he said, "but I don't want to be left vulnerable."

Arthur Torres, pastor of Glendale Seventh-day Adventist Church at California Avenue and Isabel Street, where the funeral will be conducted Friday afternoon, called the Kneidings "terrific people, happy people."

"They got along well together, they were almost inseparable."

Family-Oriented Couple

The Kneidings were described by friends and neighbors as happy, family-oriented people. Neighbors said the couple left their doors unlocked so family members could come and go as they pleased. Their three children and 13 grandchildren visited often for barbecues and to swim in the backyard pool, neighbors said.

Police said the killer walked into the house without forcing any doors or windows.

Lela Kneiding "never pulled the shades down," said Alice Thomas, who knew the Kneidings since she moved to Stanley Avenue in 1965. "I said 'Lela, why don't you ever pull down your shades?' And she said, 'What for? What's there to be afraid of?' "

The other weekend incidents took the lives of Jaime Lotera, who was shot to death, and Nicolas Jiminez, a grocery store owner who apparently committed suicide.

Lotera, 27, is believed to have been a recent immigrant from Colombia, police said. He died of multiple gunshots to the back and was dead for several days before he was found in his apartment in the 400 block of South Verdugo Road. Officers said they have suspects in the killing, but they declined to elaborate.

Jiminez, 52, was found in the storeroom of his Supermarket Americano on Central Avenue, dead of a gunshot to the heart. Police said Jiminez was reported to have been despondent lately, although customers and friends said he generally was a happy man who generously extended credit to the needy.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World