Both Murder and Victim Are Puzzles for Police
Some neighbors thought he was a surgeon, others a psychiatrist. But police say they believe the Echo Park man who was cut down by a shotgun blast in the face over the weekend was faking both his profession and his name.
The slaying of the man they knew as Brian Alton O’Neale, 47, left neighbors in the 300 block of North Burlington Avenue surprised Monday.
Detectives, meanwhile, were hustling to fill some gaping holes in the apparent ambush killing.
“We think we have identified him as someone other than O’Neale,” Detective James Leahy said. “But we haven’t verified that yet. . . .
“As far as (being) a doctor goes, he’s a fraud. I don’t know everything he (did), and I’m not at all sure he did what he said he did.”
List of Credits
A woman companion and a business partner of the victim told investigators that he claimed a long list of other professional credits--including pilot, singer, mechanic, CIA agent and karate expert, Leahy said.
The victim was struck by a single shotgun blast about 4 a.m. Sunday. Police said there were no witnesses, but the killing did not appear to be gang-related.
Next to his body, police found two sheathed knives described as Oriental ritual blades. Investigators believe the assailant or assailants lay in wait for the victim.
The name O’Neale is not listed with the Los Angles County Medical Assn. or the American Medical Assn.'s national computer listing of physicians. Officials at St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank, where the victim had claimed to be affiliated, also had no record of him.
The dead man ran a registry out of his home for physical therapists, a service used by hospitals and physicians to find trained professionals, police said. But he is not listed in state records under the name O’Neale as having a therapist’s license.
The victim’s companion of at least four years, Deborah Famoy, told police she believed him to be an accomplished medical professional.
“There are so many discrepancies in what they’ve told us,” Leahy said of the dead man’s acquaintances. “Are they lying to us or were they totally deceived by this man? We are actively investigating his past.”
Delia Beldivia lives in a home adjoining the victim’s apartment. His body was found near her doorstep. She said Monday that she saw her neighbor almost daily and knew him as a pleasant, good man. She said he claimed to be a doctor, but added that she had seen no evidence that he was.
The victim was described as “a super-nice guy” by John Jenkins, an acquaintance who knew him as a psychiatrist.
“You think of doctors as sophisticated, who’d look down on you and talk down to poor people, but he’d talk to anybody,” Jenkins said.