Police Tie Murder Suspect to a Series of Violent Crimes

Times Staff Writer

Matthew Thomas McInroe, who is charged in the killing of a Garden Grove man shot to death in his own yard by a prowler, is now a suspect in a series of other violent crimes in the city dating back to 1983, police said Tuesday.

Sgt. Bruce Beauchamp said investigators believe that the 27-year-old McInroe may have been responsible for numerous rapes, armed residential robberies and burglaries that have been reported over the last two years, many of them in the western and southwestern areas of the city.

McInroe, who worked as a quality control inspector for a Santa Ana aluminum forging company, was arrested Oct. 28 at his Westminster home in connection with the death of Jimmy Atwell.


Atwell, 35, died the night of Oct. 6 from a single gunshot wound to the chest after he apparently confronted a prowler who was running through his yard to escape pursuing officers.

After the shooting, police cordoned off the area and searched it with canine patrols and a helicopter, but they found nothing.

A monthlong investigation based on evidence that had been found at the scene of a burglary last July led officers to McInroe, according to Beauchamp, but the gun used to kill Atwell, a blue-steel, semi-automatic pistol, has never been found.

Beauchamp said investigators had thought all along that Atwell’s death might be related to a similar incident last July in which another man was shot by a prowler, as well as to the series of late-night or early-morning break-ins of occupied houses, apartments and condominiums in the same general area.

“It is also possible that there are more of these crimes which haven’t been reported or may have happened in other cities,” Beauchamp said. “We’ve already had several other previously unreported cases brought to our attention and we’re just hoping anyone who knows about others, or something about the suspect, will come forward.”