Suspect Arrested in Fatal Stabbing of TV Composer

Times Staff Writers

A suspect in the killing of a Hollywood composer was arrested in Riverside on Thursday, driving the dead man's car, police said.

Juanito Pascua Purugganan, 29, had been sought in the stabbing death of Doug Timm, whose body was found Wednesday at the bottom of a stairwell in his home in the 6900 block of Camrose Drive in the Hollywood Hills, police said.

Timm, 29, a rising composer of themes for television series, was killed either Friday or Saturday, and his partially decomposed body was found by a security guard summoned by his landlady after she became concerned about him, investigators said.

Purugganan's wife, Michelle, 20, also a suspect in the murder, and the couple's two young children were not with him when he was arrested at about 6 p.m., police said. Their whereabouts were unknown.

An all-points bulletin had been issued for the couple after the discovery of Timm's body.

"Riverside police were stopping the vehicle just as our detectives had called them to clear up a question on a Teletype," Los Angeles Police Lt. Ed Hocking said late Thursday. "Apparently several citizens had called in saying they had seen the vehicle. We have the car, the male suspect and a second male."

Hocking said investigators had not determined the identity of the other man or if he played any role in the murder.

The Purugganans had recently met Timm and with their children "were invited guests in Timm's residence," Hollywood Division Detective Rick Swanston said.

Police allege that the couple killed Timm "for the purpose of" robbery, the detective said. They took stereo equipment and Timm's black 1987 Toyota MR-2 sports car, and fled with the children, a 2-year-old and a 10-month-old infant, according to Swanston.

Neighbors told police that Timm had run an advertisement to sell electronic equipment and speculated that whoever killed him had answered the ad with the intent to rob.

'Remote Possibility'

"But we haven't verified that," Swanston said. "We have heard that he did that in the past and people are assuming that that's what happened here. It is just a possibility; a remote possibility."

The Purugganan family was last seen Monday in Riverside, Juanito Purugganan's hometown, detectives said. The family had returned to Southern California several months ago from Hawaii.

Investigators said Purugganan did not resist arrest, though relatives who live in the Long Beach area had told police that the suspect previously had threatened to kill himself or his children.

A native of Chicago, Timm studied music and film composition at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, said his manager and longtime friend, Richard Emler.

"He was friendly, open and a gentleman--and I mean a gentleman, a classy young guy who was on the path to being very successful," Emler said. "This is a terrible loss, a tragedy.

"He was a very diversified composer with a lot of styles and skills. He was young but very well-liked and well-respected."

Dennis Spiegel, a friend and neighbor, said Timm had built a studio in his home and spent most of his time working there.

He said the composer, who was engaged to be married, was "easygoing, creative, outgoing, but not overly talkative--a nice guy. Doug was a hard-working composer who was busy with his music and very successful."

"It's just devastating, just senseless," said David Grossman, director of program music at Columbia Pictures Television. "On top of being talented, he was just a hell of a nice guy--very easy to work with."

Grossman said he and Timm had worked together on several series, including "Designing Women" and "The New Mike Hammer."

About an hour before he learned of the murder, Grossman said, he had put Timm's name up for a television "Movie of the Week" project.

Timm was "very talented--kind of an innocent for Hollywood," said his agent, Stan Milander. "He had movie star good looks and was very easy to work with. Producers and heads of music at the various studios have nothing but great things to say about him.

"He was a great talent who people won't get to hear anymore."

Timm's projects also included scores for such programs as "Dolphin Cove," and TV adaptations of "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Man Who Fell to Earth."

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