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Police Find Identity of Shooting Victim, but No Suspects

Times Staff Writer

Initially confronted with a false name and profession, Los Angeles police Tuesday were able to identify the victim of a weekend shotgun slaying as Neale Henry Reynolds, but their investigation so far has failed to turn up suspects or motive.

Reynolds, 47, who Echo Park neighbors believed was a doctor, had been married five times, was once tried for bigamy, had a minor arrest record and was described by his lawyer as “an embellisher” who “told a good story.”

Having solved the mystery of Reynolds’ identity--he used two aliases, including Brian O’Neale--Rampart Division Lt. Rob Waters requested help from anyone who saw Reynolds on Saturday night.

He was shot from apparent ambush about 4 a.m. Sunday in front of his apartment in the 300 block of North Burlington Avenue. The woman he shared the apartment with believed he was working in the San Fernando Valley that night.

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While Reynolds’ longtime attorney described him as a “colorful” but harmless eccentric who was not a success at business, a Buddhist priest who performed one of his marriage ceremonies said he physically and emotionally abused his wife.

“He was someone who women like,” said lawyer E. Michael Kruse, who handled two of Reynolds’ divorces and successfully defended him in 1969 on criminal bigamy charges.

Asked about Reynolds’ professional claims--physician, singer, karate expert, pilot--Kruse added another. He said Reynolds and a business partner in Van Nuys were seeking a patent on a safety device for motorcycles.

The lawyer said Reynolds once petitioned state authorities seeking to gain a medical license based on classes he claimed to have taken in Vienna.

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“I would say he was an embellisher,” Kruse said. “He told a good story. He was perfectly pleasant. Articulate, educated and well informed. He could carry on conversations in any number of areas.”

Reynolds was “courtly” in his relations with the many women in his life, was generous and supportive and would habitually open doors for his companions, the attorney said.

In contrast, the Rev. Arthur Takemoto of the Vista Buddhist Temple said he performed Reynolds’ marriage to Delina Gonzales in 1969 and regrets it. Several months after the wedding, the bride called him seeking help, Takemoto said.

“She was really abused, physically and mentally. He wouldn’t let her out of their house. I think she was almost a prisoner,” the priest said.

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Prosecutors alleged that the January, 1969, marriage took place at a time when Reynolds was already married to Judith Fay Dunlap.

Kruse said his client believed he was legally divorced, and a judge found that Reynolds lacked the intent to commit the crime of bigamy and acquitted him.

On Tuesday, police searched Reynold’s apartment and found “tons of knives,” according to Waters, mostly Asian blades. Friends had said he was a martial arts enthusiast and collector. Several gun holsters were also found, but no firearms, police said.

Deborah Samoy, the woman with whom Reynolds was living at the time of his death, still maintained Tuesday that he was a physician, police said. There are no local, state or national records showing Reynolds attended medical school or was licensed to practice.

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Reynolds’ only known business was a partnership in a Van Nuys-based registry for physical therapists.

Detectives said they had no major leads to motive or suspects in the case.

“If nothing else, he’s a con man,” Waters said of Reynolds. “If nothing else, he’s probably made a lot enemies.”


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