A Pasadena man was being held Friday without bail on charges that he killed his girlfriend's 90-year-old millionaire father by locking him in the trunk of a car for 12 hours in an attempt to persuade the man not to press forgery charges against him.
Anthony Edward West, 31, is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 1 in Van Nuys Municipal Court on charges of murder, kidnaping and forgery in the death of Louie Molduf of Pasadena. Police said West kept Molduf's body in the trunk of the car for four days after he died before finally dumping it Sept. 18 in a parking lot at Toluca Lake Elementary School in North Hollywood.
Police initially believed that Molduf, who made his fortune in real estate, died of natural causes. However, a coroner's preliminary report found that was not the case and investigators are conducting additional tests to determine a cause of death.
Police said they believe that West, who was dating Molduf's 45-year-old daughter, locked her father in the trunk last week after the older man threatened to tell police that West had forged $25,000 worth of checks written on Molduf's account.
Police believe that West used the stolen money for a trip to Las Vegas and to buy furniture for his home.
Detective Mike Coffey of the Los Angeles Police Department's North Hollywood division said a scrap of paper found in Molduf's pocket led authorities to Molduf's bank, where they found several checks they believe were forged.
Coffey said police believe West and Molduf met Sept. 14 about 10 p.m. in the parking lot of the train station in Pasadena, where West admitted that he had forged some of Molduf's checks.
Coffey did not say whether West confessed to the crime but said West made a statement to police.
West asked Molduf not to report him to police and suggested that the two men work out a repayment agreement, Coffey said. Coffey said West reminded Molduf that because he was planning to marry his daughter at the end of the month, Molduf would be jailing his own son-in-law if he went to police. But Molduf apparently got angry and said he would report West to the authorities anyway, the detective said.
"Molduf was fed up with being ripped-off," Coffey said. "He said he was going to the police. Then West just pushed hin into the trunk."
West drove his 1979 Oldsmobile around Pasadena with Molduf in the trunk, according to police. As West drove, he screamed at Molduf not to report him, Coffey said. From the condition of the trunk, police believe Molduf may have used a tire iron to try to open the trunk, Coffey said.
When West finally stopped and discovered that Molduf had died, he left the widower's body in the car for four days, then dumped it in the school parking lot, police said. Police found the body about 6 a.m. on Sept. 18.
West was being held in the jail ward of County-USC Medical Center after complaining of high blood pressure.
Molduf's daughter is not a suspect in the case, said Coffey, adding that the daughter broke off the relationship with West after her father's death.