Woman Held in Killing of Her Neighbor

Times Staff Writer

A Hollywood woman who had complained that her upstairs neighbor's footsteps and music bothered her was charged Thursday with shooting him to death.

Joshua Von Holder, a 29-year-old songwriter and musician, died of a gunshot wound to the chest in his apartment just before 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, homicide Det. John Miller said.

Stephanie Falcon, 34, was charged with first-degree murder. She also was charged with attempted murder after she shot at but missed Von Holder's girlfriend, authorities said.

"The suspect thought somebody was bothering her. There was no explanation for it. She didn't like him walking," Miller said.

Falcon never complained to apartment management, police said. But neighbor Charlene Washburn said Falcon had mentioned the music and footsteps to her.

"The way the layout is, it's easy to hear noise," said Washburn, 30. The 25-apartment complex in the 1400 block of North Gardner Street, a half block from Sunset Boulevard, surrounds a small pool, and the old building has thin walls. Washburn and other apartment residents said the noise from Von Holder's apartment was not especially loud.

Neighbors said Falcon kept mostly to herself, rarely socializing or even lifting her head to say hello. Washburn said Falcon was depressed in part about how her job was going at a computer firm in Culver City and apparently uncomfortable with being a transsexual.

"Her family didn't accept her, and she had no support group," said Washburn, a transgender who met Falcon at the doctor's office where the two received hormone therapy. "She was very unhappy with her life," Washburn said.

Washburn said that at the doctor's office she offered Falcon a friendly ear if she ever needed it. Sometime later Falcon called saying she needed a place to live and Washburn told her an apartment was vacant in her complex on North Gardner.

She said Von Holder "was a very nice guy. He wouldn't bother anybody."

The youngest of five children, Von Holder was raised in Encinitas in north San Diego County. His sister Victoria said that on Monday he had reunited with his girlfriend and had talked ecstatically about his feelings for her.

The two had recently recorded "Twilight," a jazz/soft rock ballad written by Von Holder and sung by his girlfriend. Larry Smith, 62, a 28-year resident who lives down the hall, said he had planned to add guitar for the track. Smith said occasionally he had heard music from Von Holder's apartment but that "he was really conscious of his neighbors.... It was never offensive. That's the really sick part," Smith said. "He was a very talented young man."

Victoria, 33, said the family was devastated. "My only vague consolation is that he was very spiritual," she said. "He had really grasped the essential things in life: art, music, love. He had purpose and goals."

For The Record Los Angeles Times Wednesday February 25, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction Hollywood shooting -- An article in Friday's California section about a shooting at a Hollywood apartment complex incorrectly identified the slain man as Joshua Von Holder. His name was Joshua von Holder.
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