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Fears Grow, Security Beefed Up at Mall Where Woman Was Kidnaped : Crime: But some shoppers are unaware of victim, who was found dead along freeway. Link to similar slaying is probed.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Armed sheriff’s deputies strolled past suburban teen-agers and shoppers at the Puente Hills Mall Thursday as authorities investigated the deaths of two women, at least one of whom was abducted from the City of Industry shopping center.

Their presence emphasized the fears that some patrons are feeling.

“Gee, there’s somebody out there killing people in broad daylight. . . . It could happen anywhere,” said Freida Stewart, whose business takes her regularly to about 10 Southern California malls as a demonstrator for a cabinet shop chain.

The extra security came after Elizabeth Nesbet, 49, of Diamond Bar was abducted from the mall Saturday afternoon while waiting in a car for her husband. Nesbet was found dead less than three hours later with a gunshot wound to the head inside the couple’s 1990 Ford Bronco along the San Gabriel River Freeway in Irwindale.

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A second woman, Shirley Denogean, 56, of Claremont, died of multiple gunshot wounds Tuesday afternoon along the Pomona Freeway in South El Monte. Her car, a 1980 silver Mercedes-Benz, was found later that day in El Monte.

Denogean’s co-workers said she had left her job at Lynx Golf Inc., in the City of Industry to go shopping, but it was unclear if she had gone to the Puente Hills Mall, which is less than a mile away.

Sheriff’s investigators Thursday had no suspects and lacked a description of the two men seen fleeing after Denogean’s death, said Sheriff’s Deputy Rich Erickson. “It’s kind of more of a warning to the public if people notice things around shopping malls or problems with a single woman,” Erickson said.

The deputies from the Industry station strolled impassively past the mall’s antique carousel. Knots of security guards also patrolled the parking lot, waiting to escort shoppers to their cars.

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Clair Griffith, the mall’s general manager, said the measures will “continue as long as necessary.”

Lt. Marvin Cavanaugh said sheriff’s deputies regularly patrol the mall but more deputies would be deployed.

Some shoppers appreciated the measures.

“You stop and think about it,” said Connie Davis of the deaths.

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A resident of nearby Walnut, Davis said she visits the mall about three times a week but was warned by her daughter, “Be careful. You have no business out there.”

Some shoppers were unaware of the deaths and were unconcerned.

“It’s daylight and I’m an optimist and I always think it’s going to happen to the other person,” said Wynona Gordon, 55, of Diamond Bar, as she waved to her 2-year-old grandson, Trenton Gordon, who rode the merry-go-round.

Sheriff’s investigators have spoken to Los Angeles detectives about the death of Debra Denise Medlock, 34, of Los Angeles, who was found shot to death Wednesday by the side of the Harbor Freeway near 59th Place in Los Angeles. But Los Angeles Detective Joe Herrera said Medlock’s death bore little resemblance to the deaths of the two others.

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