Two reputed members of a skinhead gang were released from jail Thursday while investigators attempted to gather more evidence that they broke into a Sylmar woman's new home in Palmdale and scrawled threats, swastikas and satanic symbols on the walls, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies said.
Michael Todd Evans, 18, of Palmdale and Thomas Conroy, 19, a transient, were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of burglary and vandalism after deputies traced evidence, including footprints, to them, Sgt. Ron Shreves said. The suspects were released Thursday because detectives did not have enough evidence to charge them and are seeking more, Shreves said.
The vandalism was discovered Tuesday in the home in the 5300 block of Blue Sage Drive by a contractor working in the development. Mary Termini, a 66-year-old widow, was in the process of moving into the home from Sylmar. When she arrived at the house, she found much of her property damaged and writing on several walls, she said.
An obscenity was scrawled on a Catholic calendar, she said. There were satanic and Nazi symbols. One message read: "This house is possessed. Get out bitch." Termini said personal papers relating to her late husband's burial were strewn around the house and a "Welcome Home" food basket that had been a gift was torn open and dumped.
Termini said a telephone and a pair of her prescription glasses were stolen by the vandals. A note on a wall said, "Thanks for the glasses."
Termini said she has not decided whether she wants to move into the house now. Deputies estimated damages at $5,000.
"It was horrifying," Termini said. "I am still in shock. They tore the place apart. I would have been in this weekend. Now I don't know if I ever will."
After the break-in was reported, sheriff's gang experts determined the graffiti had apparently come from a local skinhead gang, Shreves said. Skinhead gangs are found in several cities throughout the United States and often espouse a neo-Nazi, white supremacist philosophy. Members of the groups often have shaved heads or short-cropped hair.
Evans and Conroy, located at a local skinhead hangout known to investigators, were arrested when deputies found that their shoes closely matched footprints in Termini's home, Shreves said.
Termini said she was upset that Evans and Conroy were released.
"It bothers me," she said. "That's why I don't know if I will move in there or not. They'll know where I live."