Two 20-year-old men and a 17-year-old girl have been arrested on suspicion of murdering a 56-year-old man so one of the youths could move the girl into the Newhall apartment he shared with the older man, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies reported Wednesday.
Gabriel J. Saraceno, Paul Green and the girl, all of Santa Clarita, were being held in connection with the death of David Wallace, Deputy Rich Erickson said.
The body of a man who had been beaten and strangled, discovered Monday in Pico Canyon, just west of Santa Clarita, is believed to be that of Wallace, Erickson said. The county coroner’s office will try to establish the identity in an autopsy later this week, he said.
Erickson said Saraceno and Wallace shared an apartment in the 22000 block of 8th Street in Newhall.
“The motive for the murder . . . pending a further investigation appears to be that Saraceno wanted the apartment to himself,” so the girl could move in with him, he said.
The events leading to the discovery of Wallace’s body and the arrest of Saraceno, Green and the girl began Jan. 2 when Saraceno reported Wallace missing to the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station, Erickson said.
Erickson said that detectives later received a tip from an informant that Wallace had been murdered and that Green, Saraceno and the girl were involved. The informant also provided the location of a possible grave in a remote area of Pico Canyon.
Detectives and deputies on Monday discovered a body believed to be Wallace’s in the area, Erickson said. He said deputies believe the man was killed Jan. 1.
Erickson said Green was taken into custody the same day. Sheriff’s deputies from Los Angeles and Kern counties Wednesday arrested Saraceno in Lebec and the girl in Pine Mountain Club, a mountain village about 20 miles west of Frazier Park and Interstate 5.
All three were being held without bail on suspicion of murder, Erickson said.
“We believe at this point that Green and Saraceno were the two people involved in the murder,” Erickson said.
Erickson said it is unclear whether the girl took an active role in the slaying, but that deputies believe she was present when it happened. One or more of the three also disposed of the body, he said.