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2 Arrested in Fatal Shooting at Apartment

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police arrested two men on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of a man whose badly burned remains were found Saturday in the trunk of a car abandoned at a Reseda auto-supply store, authorities said.

Authorities said Michael Sam Casamento, 25, and Michael Wilfred Wells, 45, shot a still unidentified 24-year-old man several times in the head and chest at their Encino apartment complex. Authorities said the men then dumped the body down a garbage chute, stuffed it into the trunk of his girlfriend’s car and drove it to Chief Auto Supply at Reseda Boulevard and Saticoy Street, where they set the car afire.

Detective Rick Swanston of the Los Angeles Police Department’s West Valley Division said police found evidence of cocaine and cocaine sales in Wells’ apartment and believe the dispute was drug-related.

Shortly after midnight Friday, patrol officers were called to an apartment building in the 5300 block of Newcastle Avenue by neighbors who reported hearing gunshots. There, the officers saw Casamento, a resident of the complex, deposit a bag into the trash chute, Swanston said.

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The officers left the scene after briefly questioning Casamento, but returned more than an hour later after an anonymous tipster told police about a pool of blood in the complex’s carport.

Police followed a blood trail from the carport to the trash chute, recovered a bag full of bloody clothing and again detained Casamento. While they were questioning him, police stopped Wells as he left his apartment wearing clothing covered with blood, Swanston said.

“So they grab (Wells), they look in his apartment and there’s blood in his apartment and there’s a blood trail going from his door to the trash shoot,” Swanston said.

Swanston said police also found a cache of more than 30 rifles and handguns and a stock of knives in Wells’ apartment.

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Authorities believe the men drove the car to Reseda between the first and second time officers were on the scene, Swanston said. The auto-supply store manager found the burned car Saturday morning and had it impounded, and police found the body after linking the impounded vehicle to a license and papers found in Wells’ apartment.

“I don’t know if it’s sloppy or brazen,” Swanston said. “They take a major intersection at Reseda and Saticoy and set this car on fire.”

Wells and Casamento were booked for murder and held without bail at the West Valley jail.


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