Arleta Woman to Stand Trial in Murder of Rival

Times Staff Writer

A 21-year-old Arleta woman was ordered to stand trial in the drowning of a teen-age girl after a witness testified Friday that the woman admitted participating in the killing.

Eva Chirumbolo testified at a preliminary hearing in Glendale Municipal Court that Laura Doyle admitted that she and Karen Severson, 21, killed Michele “Missy” Avila, 17. Two hikers found Avila’s body under a log in a creek in Angeles National Forest on Oct. 4, 1985.

Chirumbolo, 20, said she accompanied Doyle, Severson and Avila to the forest on Oct. 1, 1985, but was not present at the creek near Colby Canyon Road when the killing occurred.


Chirumbolo, who has not been charged in the death, informed Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators about the slaying in June. Doyle and Severson were arrested June 27.

When asked by Doyle’s attorney, Ellery S. Sorkin, why she had waited nearly three years to tell authorities about the crime, Chirumbolo said, “I was afraid for myself, that my life would be in danger.”

Chirumbolo testified that on the day of the killing she drove with Severson to Stonehurst Park in Sun Valley where they met Doyle and Avila, who were sitting in Doyle’s car. Shortly afterward, Doyle and Avila drove to the forest, with Severson and Chirumbolo following in another car, she said.

During the drive, Severson said that she and Doyle planned to scare Avila, Chirumbolo testified. “I didn’t know what they had planned,” Chirumbolo said. “I didn’t know how far this was going to go.”

The four parked in a dirt lot near the creek, Chirumbolo said. Doyle and Severson got out of the cars and began yelling at Avila about all the boys she had been to bed with, Chirumbolo said. Avila, still seated in the car, was crying when Doyle grabbed her by the wrist and said “let’s go for a walk,” Chirumbolo testified.

The four walked down an embankment to the creek, she said, and Doyle and Severson continued screaming at Avila.


At one point Doyle grabbed Avila by the hair and accused her of having slept with Victor Amaya, Doyle’s boyfriend, Chirumbolo said. Amaya, 23, testified Thursday that Doyle had threatened to kill Avila six weeks before the girl’s body was found.

Chirumbolo said that Doyle stepped into the creek and Severson then pushed Avila toward Doyle, who grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her into the water, Chirumbolo said.

Chirumbolo said she ran back to where the cars were parked. A few minutes later, Chirumbolo testified, Doyle and Severson joined her, and Severson jumped into her car and drove away.

Chirumbolo said that when she got into the car with Doyle, Doyle said, “We killed Missy.” Chirumbolo testified that she asked Doyle if she was sure Avila was dead, and Doyle answered that she was. Doyle added that Avila deserved to die because she had slept with Amaya, Chirumbolo said.

Sorkin asked why Chirumbolo had not tried to break up the argument among the girls. “I don’t know why I didn’t,” she said. “I wish I had.”

Municipal Court Judge Joseph F. De Vanon ordered Doyle to appear for arraignment in Pasadena Superior Court on Dec. 2.

If convicted, Doyle could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

A hearing in Pasadena Juvenile Court to determine whether Severson, who was 17 at the time of Avila’s death, should stand trial as an adult was canceled Friday. It was rescheduled for Tuesday.