The husband of a North Hills woman who was shot to death in front of her 9-year-old son appealed to the public Friday for help in apprehending the gunman who killed her.
Phillip H. Myles, a devout Christian, also said he was praying for whoever took part in the slaying of his wife, Laurie T. Myles. She was killed Wednesday evening as she arrived to pick up her teen-age daughter from a Bible study class in Northridge. Her 9-year-old son, who saw the shooting from the passenger seat of her car, was interviewed by police Friday in an effort to get a better description of the robbers.
In a prepared statement, Myles said “I want to thank the public for their overwhelming support” since the killing.
“Our family is deeply grieving,” Myles added. “I’d like to make an appeal to the community to reach out to kids on the street so these senseless crimes don’t continue to happen. We are praying for the individuals who committed this awful crime.”
Myles and Los Angeles police asked anyone with information about the slaying to contact homicide detectives at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Devonshire station.
Myles and police also criticized The Times for an article in which his wife was misidentified as another woman with a similar identity who has a criminal record.
“I want everyone to know that the article that was printed (Friday) in the L.A. Times was inaccurate. The information they obtained was from the files of another person with a similar name,” Myles said in his statement.
LAPD officials agreed, saying fingerprint comparisons made Friday show that the slaying victim and the woman with the criminal convictions were not the same person. Court files and Department of Motor Vehicle records show that the two women have nearly identical names and birth dates.
Cmdr. David Gascon, the LAPD’s top spokesman, said the news article’s account of criminal activity in Myles’ background was factually incorrect. He called the misinformation in the story “a horrible mistake.”
Gascon and Deputy Chief Mark A. Kroeker, who commands all police divisions in the San Fernando Valley, said they could not comment on whether anyone else might have been using Myles’ name, but her husband said he knew of no previous problems of mistaken identity. Kroeker said it is not unusual for police to come across contradictory or bad information during background checks.
“The only way you can know for sure is through fingerprint verification,” he said.
The Times’ information on the criminal record of the woman with the nearly identical name and birth date was obtained through a search of public records, not from police. It is illegal for police to publicly disclose criminal histories, Kroeker said.
Myles was confronted by two men, one of whom had a gun, who demanded her purse, according to police. She handed it over, but the gunman shot her anyway, police said.
As her family mourned Friday, Myles’ friends recalled her as a devout and gentle person.
C. J. Lyons, a friend, said: “If you had only known her--she was the most gentle, caring, loving Christian woman in the world.”
She said Myles’ children were at times angry and at other times questioning why such a terrible thing had happened to their mother. She said many people were praying with the family and keeping them company.
“She was always an extremely religious person,” said John Mucci, who was Myles’ boss for seven years at Mucci & Lagnese, a Los Angeles business management firm.
Marcie Gold, a friend and co-worker, said Myles had recently decided to work for a ministry that helps street children. As part of that job, she had been photocopying checks made to the company before depositing them. She left the copy shop and drove to get her daughter at the Bible study group, where she was killed. Gold said a briefcase containing the checks also was stolen but that some were recovered after the slaying.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at a worship service Friday night at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, where Myles was remembered as “a beautiful woman who loved Jesus.”
Church member Patrick Moody asked parishioners to have faith in God.
“How could such a horrible thing happen to a good person like Laurie?” he asked the congregation. “People of God, I want you to know God is in control of the situation.”
A Laurie Myles Memorial Fund has been established at Church on the Way, 14300 Sherman Way, Van Nuys 91405.
Special correspondent Scott Glover contributed to this report.