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PLACENTIA : Tonight’s Meeting to Focus on Crime

Police Chief Manuel Ortega, County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez and several other speakers will talk to parents about crime at a community information meeting tonight at 7 at Valencia High School. The scheduled topic is “Parents Against Crime.”

The event had been planned for several weeks, but the recent slaying of former Valencia High student Cathy Torrez has heightened concern about crime in the city, and event planners are expecting a large turnout.

Torrez’s body was discovered Feb. 19 in the trunk of her car, which had been parked at Placentia Linda Community Hospital for several days. She had been missing since Feb. 12, when a co-worker saw her drive off about 8 p.m. from a parking lot near the Sav-On drugstore where they both worked.

“Cathy’s death has so touched the community that I know we’re going to have a lot of people here asking a lot of questions about crime in this town,” event planner Shelle Bilhartz said.

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Bilhartz said organizers originally anticipated that about 300 people would attend, but now are setting up for 700.

The program was planned by the school’s Parent, Teacher and Student Assn. to discuss ways parents can combat crime, Bilhartz said. Gangs and gang-related crimes were to be the focus of the evening, but Torrez’s abduction and stabbing death may now dominate discussion.

Torrez’s slaying “has become the topic in town,” Bilhartz said. “It will probably be the focus of the night.”

Speakers include a former gang homicide investigator and Bert Blyleven, a former pitcher for the California Angels.

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The program will be in the Valencia High auditorium, 500 N. Bradford Ave.


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