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Police Offer $25,000 for Aid in Slaying Case

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hoping to entice someone to come forward, Los Angeles homicide detectives Wednesday announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the slaying of a mother of four.

Renee Peterson, 26, and a friend were returning from a party about 2:40 a.m. on Nov. 12 when two men driving a 1979 Monte Carlo began chasing their car. Peterson and the driver, LaFaye Sparks, had just dropped off a friend near Vermont Avenue and 81st Place in South-Central Los Angeles when the two men began shooting at them and following their car.

The two women tried to flee, but their car hit a traffic sign near 81st Place and Mariposa Avenue. The men jumped out of their car and began firing. Sparks was not hurt, but Peterson was shot several times and died at the scene. South Bureau Detective Sergio Robleto suggested that the assailants may have mistaken Peterson for someone else because no other motive has been discovered.

Sparks described the assailants as Latino, and Robleto made a special plea to the Latino community to help in the case.

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Relatives said Peterson, a graduate of Wilmington’s Banning High School, was devoted to her children and had hoped to land a job with the Los Angeles Unified School District as a cashier.

The children’s stepfather, Rodney Whitehead, said the death has left the family in shambles.

“The puzzling part of her death is why it happened,” Whitehead said, shaking his head. “It aches every night when I think about it.”

Peterson’s mother, Sharon Peterson, is now caring for her daughter’s children, Dominique, Damon, Devon and Dajion, who range in age from 2 to 10. She said the children miss their mother terribly. “They talk about her every day,” she said, holding Dajion. “The kids are afraid to be alone. Someone has to be with them at all times.”

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Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said the slaying prompted the city to authorize the reward. “We will do whatever is necessary to get these killers off the streets of Los Angeles,” Ridley-Thomas said.


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