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Resident of Building Where Body Was Found Is Arrested

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police have arrested a 40-year-old man in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found in a garbage bin alongside his Oxnard Street apartment building early Wednesday morning.

A security guard saw a man dump a large box into an alleyway trash bin just after 2 a.m. Wednesday, said LAPD Sgt. Kristie Romero. When the guard inspected the bin, “his nose told him something was wrong,” Romero said. A woman’s body was discovered inside the box.

The guard contacted police and led them to the apartment of Lawrence Johnson, who was arrested on suspicion of murder. Johnson was being held at the Van Nuys Jail without bail.

The woman appeared to have been “dead for a while,” said Lt. Richard Blankenship, but authorities could not be more specific about the time of her death.

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Johnson’s neighbors said he was a telephone salesman who had lived in the apartment complex for several years and kept odd hours. Some recalled him playing his acoustic guitar in the building’s courtyard for neighbors’ children.

“I don’t think he’s capable of murder,” said Frank Melton, an 18-year resident of the apartment building and an acquaintance of Johnson. “I don’t think anybody here disliked him--he’s a very nice guy.”

The coroner’s office had not determined the cause of death and would not release the name of the woman.


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