Links Sought Between Slaying of Couple, Others

Times Staff Writer

Glendale police and county sheriff's officers are investigating possible connections between the July 20 slayings of an elderly Glendale couple and a string of five killings in the San Gabriel Valley.

Although police officials emphasize that they have discovered no direct link between the San Gabriel Valley homicides and the killings of Glendale residents Maxson C. Kneiding, 68, and his wife, Lela Ellen, 66, they say there are similarities.

Capt. Glynn Martin, commander of the Glendale Police Department's investigative services division, said the similarities are "in the age group, the type of violence used and the time of night of the crime."

Martin refused to give any other details, saying: "At this point, it is vital we maintain the integrity of the investigation and not compromise the nature of any evidence we may have."

Notes Compared

But, he said, the similarities are significant enough to prompt the Glendale Police Department to "swap notes" with the Sheriff's Department, which is handling the investigation of the San Gabriel Valley murders.

Martin made the comments shortly before addressing a Friday night gathering of about 100 frightened residents of the Kneidings' neighborhood. Police blocked off Zerr Court and held the meeting in the street, just around the corner from the Stanley Avenue home where the Kneidings lived for more than 30 years.

The meeting was the first of the newly formed Neighborhood Watch in the Stanley Avenue area. Residents quickly filled the 40 chairs set up in the street by the Police Department; others stood or brought lawn chairs from home.

Many said they have had a hard time sleeping since the murder.

"I look out my window at 4 a.m. and see lights on in houses all up and down the street," said Maria Muriello, a resident who organized the Neighborhood Watch after the Kneiding slayings. "It's a shame something like this had to happen to get things going," she said.

Martin fielded questions and listened to the concerns of the neighborhood residents, many of whom are elderly.

Joan Mantini, 50, lives several doors from the Kneiding home and stays home to take care of her elderly father. She told Martin she was thinking of buying a handgun.

"I'm not going to just stand there and get killed," she said.

The couple was found shot to death in their bed about 9 a.m. on July 20. Martin said they were probably killed sometime between 2 and 4 that morning.

San Gabriel Valley Victims

In the San Gabriel Valley, between Monterey Park and Arcadia, there were five slayings in five separate incidents between May 14 and July 7. Four of the victims were older than 60. Three of those were women. Only one of the cases involved an attack on a couple. The fifth victim was a 32-year-old woman who lived alone. There have been no arrests in those cases.

Only one of those victims was shot; two others were bludgeoned and two died from slashed throats. However, all the attacks took place in the early morning, as did the Glendale killings.

Martin said the Kneidings' killers had apparently "pre-selected" the Kneiding home. "I don't think it was a random selection of people for murder," he said.

"It is my belief someone pre-selected the location, knowing the residents of the house were of a particular age. I think they did know something about the location, they did know something about the people there. . . . "

2 or More Killers

Martin said he believes more than one person entered the Kneiding home the night they were killed. That would be inconsistent with the San Gabriel Valley slayings, which police said they believe were committed by someone operating alone.

In most of those cases, however, there had apparently been a burglary of a small number of items, as is believed to be the case in the Kneidings' deaths.

The Kneidings and most of the San Gabriel Valley victims lived in single-family dwellings and left their windows open on hot nights. The Kneidings also had a habit of leaving their doors unlocked; Martin said whoever killed the Kneidings made an unforced entry.

Glendale police Sgt. Steve Campbell talked to the residents about how to make their homes more secure. He suggested that they install dead-bolt locks, put gravel around their houses so that footsteps can be heard and learn to use the 911 emergency telephone number.

But most of the nearly two-hour meeting was spent answering questions about the Kneidings' murder. Campbell scheduled a follow-up meeting for 7 p.m. today at the same location.

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