Finding of Body Thickens Plot After Story of Routed Intruder
A Woodland Hills man was arrested on suspicion of murder Wednesday in the shooting death of his stepdaughter’s boyfriend, whose body was found by an early-morning jogger in the bushes outside the man’s house.
The man, Peter Atanasov, 37, had called police to his house Tuesday night and reported that he had just chased away a prowler. Los Angeles officers on foot and in a helicopter searched the grounds but found no one.
Investigators Wednesday said they believe that Atanasov knew the intruder was Dane Kimball, 18, who had been dating Atanasov’s 15-year-old stepdaughter.
Police Lt. William J. Gaida said the youth might have been hiding in the bushes when Atanasov fired several shots. Atanasov apparently did not know one of them struck Kimball, Gaida said.
Kimball’s body was found by a jogger about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday between a chain-link fence and a bush on the edge of the golf course of the Woodland Hills Country Club, a short distance from Atanasov’s home, Gaida said. He had been shot once in the head with what police believe was a .38-caliber pistol.
Tell of Seeing Flashlight
Detective Patrick Conmay said Atanasov, a Bulgarian immigrant employed as a construction worker, and his wife, Bonnie, told officers that they had returned from a restaurant about 9 p.m. Tuesday and saw a flashlight beam moving inside the house.
Atanasov said he went inside to investigate and chased the intruder into the street, according to Conmay. Atanasov did not tell investigating officers that he used a gun to chase the prowler or indicate that Kimball was the person he had pursued, Conmay said.
Neighbors said they heard shouts and then five gunshots, after which they saw Atanasov run into the street holding a pistol.
“The shots woke up my baby,” said Annie Hayes, who lives next door. “I went out front and saw him posing like they do on television, shooting away. . . . I didn’t see what he was shooting at.”
Police Copter Searches Area
Officers in a helicopter searched the area for about 15 minutes. They did not see Kimball’s body, which was about 75 yards from the house, Gaida said.
Kimball’s father told investigators that “bad blood had existed between his son and Atanasov” for some time and that the suspect had caught Kimball inside his house without permission on earlier occasions, Gaida said.
Atanasov was arrested Wednesday afternoon at a construction site in Van Nuys. A gun was found at the site, and several shell casings were taken from Atanasov’s home, Gaida said. Atanasov was being held without bail at the West Valley police station’s jail.
Atanasov’s stepdaughter wasn’t home at the time of the shooting, police said.