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Slaying Suspect May Have Been Acting as Spy

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The teenage girl suspected of killing John Tyler Hancock and his mother was reportedly “obsessed” with Hancock’s money and may been spying on an ex-girlfriend for him.

The ex-girlfriend, Kimberly Wakefield, 27, said Sunday that Tynickia Sherikia Thompson, 19, drove around in Hancock’s car and flashed large wads of money, some of which she was paid for telling Hancock about Wakefield’s activities.

“She was obsessed with the stories of him and his money,” Wakefield said two days after Thompson was arrested in the grisly May 8 slayings of Hancock, 49, and his mother, Helen B. Hancock, 77, who were both shot and strangled before their 4,200-square-foot rented mansion was set on fire.

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Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators have released few details of what led to the arrest, other than to say Thompson had met Hancock in January and had been at his Lemon Heights home the day before he was slain. The investigators also said “a financial dispute” between Thompson and Hancock might have been the motive in the slayings.

According to Wakefield, “he was using her for information, she was using him for money.”

Wakefield said she stopped dating Hancock in late March or early April, and that he had been possessive. She said she and Thompson were neighbors at an Anaheim apartment complex, and that she had introduced the teenager to Hancock early this year.

Thompson was arrested at 6 p.m. Friday by homicide investigators in a parking lot near the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and Ball Road, only a few blocks from the Sunset Plaza apartment complex where she lives with her mother.

Wakefield believes she is one of the key links that led homicide investigators to Thompson.

“She came over to my house and used the phone. We got to be close enough so she just walked in when the door was unlocked,” Wakefield said.

“She talked about how she was involved in rap music. . . . She said she worked at a beauty salon, which I found out later wasn’t true.”

Hancock, who had been married twice and had three children, had wanted more out of their relationship, Wakefield said. Hancock had written her several long letters about his strong feelings for her and proposing marriage, Wakefield said.

“He wanted to make the relationship more serious. He spelled his feelings out in his letters,” Wakefield said. She kept him at bay, she said, hoping to keep the friendship more casual. “I didn’t want him to get the wrong impression.”

In the letters on his personal stationery, Hancock wrote to Wakefield, “I believe I do love you . . .” and offered to take care of her for the rest of her life.

Wakefield said she met Hancock through a mutual friend and that they became close friends but were not intimate during the four or five months they dated.

He took her out for casual drinks, they occasionally went shopping together, and they exchanged visits at each other’s homes, Wakefield said.

According to court records, Hancock had been convicted of assault and price fixing, both in 1977, had been sentenced to three years in prison in 1988 for swindling lenders and was being investigated for alleged credit card fraud at the time of his death.

Wakefield said she knew a different man.

“He was a very good person, a genuine person, to me,” Wakefield said. “He was a very soft-spoken man. . . . In no way, shape or form was he a con man to me.”

While she dated Hancock, Wakefield developed a friendship with her new neighbor, Thompson, “a cute, friendly girl” who had moved into the apartment complex with her mother, Edi. They became close, sharing dinners. Eventually Wakefield introduced Thompson to her other friend, Hancock.

As Wakefield’s and Hancock’s relationship waned, Thompson and Hancock became more friendly, to the point where Wakefield and others saw them together. Wakefield said that’s when she started to catch Thompson lying--she took Hancock’s phone number from Wakefield’s phone book--and became convinced Hancock was paying Thompson to spy on her activities.

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She recounted that she decided to confront them both.

On April 10, according to Wakefield, Hancock called to ask her if she owed Thompson a large amount of money because he said he had paid the debt for her.

“That was a bogus debt. I never owed her any money,” Wakefield said.

On another occasion, Thompson flashed a large sum of money, “in the four figures,” that Hancock had given her, Wakefield said.

“I felt betrayed and violated,” Wakefield said. “I told him the whole thing was unacceptable. I said they deserved each other if he was going to spy on me.”

Wakefield said that in her opinion there was never a relationship between Thompson and Hancock other than pure business.

The last time Wakefield saw Thompson was on the day before the killings.

“I saw her that morning and we exchanged a few [unpleasant] words,” she said.

About a day later, she said, when she learned that Hancock and his mother had been killed, she was “shocked.”

But when she found out that Thompson had been arrested for the crimes she was not surprised, she said.

Thompson is being held in Orange County Jail without bail. She is expected to be arraigned Wednesday on murder charges.


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