Advertisement

Santa Clarita Man Accused of Killing Mother in Fight

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 24-year-old man who became enraged when his mother confronted him about his excessive drinking stabbed her to death and then wounded his father at their Santa Clarita home early Sunday morning, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman said.

Michael Tonnessen, who barricaded himself in the family’s home in the 25900 block of Coleridge Place for more than four hours after the stabbings, was arrested after a SWAT team fired tear gas into the house, forcing him to surrender about 4:30 a.m., said Deputy Bob Killeen.

The incident began when Michael Tonnessen arrived home intoxicated and his mother, Theresa, confronted him, Killeen said.

When deputies arrived at the home shortly after midnight, much of the grisly scene had played out in front of neighbors.

Advertisement

“I thought it was three kids fighting out in front of their home,” said Pam Vogt, who lives nearby. “They were struggling, and I thought it was two guys beating on a girl until one of them shouted, ‘He just stabbed me and my wife.’ ”

Dan Deffenbaugh, another neighbor, said he ran out of his home when he heard screaming, and saw Theresa Tonnessen sitting on the ground with her arms wrapped around her midsection. Her husband, Kurt Tonnessen, was covered with blood and was screaming for help while trying to care for his wife, Deffenbaugh said. Michael Tonnessen was standing nearby, seeming to celebrate, he said.

"[Michael] was pumping his fists in the air like he had just won a prizefight,” Deffenbaugh said. “We didn’t really understand what was going on until [Kurt Tonnessen] started yelling, ‘My son just stabbed me and my wife. Call the police.’ ”

Theresa Tonnessen, 51, suffered several stab wounds and was pronounced dead at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia, Killeen said. Kurt Tonnessen, 53, an engineer who was part of a crew that won an Emmy in 1996 for “The Tonight Show,” was listed in serious but stable condition with a single stab wound to his upper body, Killeen said.

Advertisement

Authorities said Michael Tonnessen was being held at the Santa Clarita sheriff’s station on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.


Advertisement