Newsletter: Why are so many women dying in L.A. County?

Ena Palma, left, speaks of memories with her sister, Yanet Palma-Perez, who is pictured on the wall in her Wilmington, Calif., home. Yanet Palma-Perez died at the hands of her husband in 2016.
(Liz Moughon/Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Sept. 20, and Julia Wick is on assignment. I’m Shelby Grad.

Last year, 114 women were killed in Los Angeles County, the highest number since the beginning of the decade, according to a Times analysis of coroner and law enforcement records. Meanwhile, the death toll for men, who make up the vast majority of casualties, declined dramatically to 523 from 755 deaths a decade earlier. What’s going on behind the numbers? Reporter Nicole Santa Cruz tells us the origins of the project:

“As a writer of the Homicide Report blog, my job is to track each homicide in Los Angeles County. Earlier this year, as I began taking a look at 2018’s numbers, I noticed that there seemed to be more killings of females. One woman was shot by her ex-boyfriend while walking to her car. Another was stabbed to death by her longtime husband.

Last year saw the highest number of women and girls killed in Los Angeles County since 2010. My colleague, Iris Lee, and I decided to look into each killing since 2016, when the homicides started to rise.


We phoned detectives from all over the county, hunted down court documents and knocked on the doors of those left behind by these tragic acts. We found that, oftentimes, these killings are perpetrated by those who claim to love them: their ex-boyfriends or husbands.

The impact this has on surviving families is difficult to comprehend. I visited with the family of Yanet Palma-Perez, a woman who was killed by her ex-husband. Perez left behind three children who are now in the care of her sister Ena Palma, whose life will never be the same.

Ena Palma has a calendar on her refrigerator. It’s full of appointments and other things to remember — now Palma is a single mother of six. In her living room is a framed picture of her sister, smiling, and wearing a crown at her daughter’s quinceanera.”

[Read the story: “As homicides drop in L.A., more women are being killed — often by intimate partners” by Nicole Santa Cruz and Iris Lee.]

And now, here’s what’s happening around California:


When the Conception hit the waters in the early 1980s, the personal electronics revolution was still decades away. But when the Conception set off on its fateful Labor Day voyage, those on board needed power — a lot of it. And they plugged into a series of outlets concealed in the back of L-shaped benches between the foam cushions and backs in the ship’s galley. Could this be the key to unlocking the cause? Los Angeles Times

Democratic donor Ed Buck will face federal criminal charges in connection with allegations that he lured several men to his West Hollywood home and injected them with drugs in recent years, leading to two deaths, law enforcement sources say. Buck is already accused of operating a drug house, with prosecutors alleging he lured vulnerable men with money and shelter, then injected them with methamphetamine for sexual gratification. Los Angeles Times


President Trump’s big idea for fixing California’s homelessness crisis should look familiar to many prominent Democrats: Eliminate layers of regulation to make it easier and cheaper to build more housing.

Trump’s bizarre slams at California’s homeless took a particularly troubling twist. He vowed some type of action against San Francisco because “tremendous pollution” was flowing into the ocean because of waste in storm sewers, specifically citing used needles. It was unclear what Trump was referring to, and there was no clarification about what rules San Francisco supposedly violated.

More coverage:


A Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detective has testified in numerous cases without jurors, judges or defense attorneys knowing he had previously received a lengthy suspension for dishonesty after he punched a suspect several times and lied about it, records and interviews show. Los Angeles Times

A small plane crashed onto the roof of a Torrance shopping center Thursday after taking off from a nearby airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Two people were on board. One person died and the other was critically injured and taken to a hospital, according to the Torrance Police Department. Los Angeles Times

This is the L.A. restaurant our critic recommends more than any other. Los Angeles Times

Is L.A.'s homeless approach doomed to failure? Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s oldest freeway is about to go carless, for a few hours. Curbed Los Angeles


A federal judge ordered a temporary injunction against California’s law requiring candidates to disclose their tax returns for a spot on the presidential primary ballot, an early victory for Trump but a decision that will undoubtedly be appealed by state officials. Los Angeles Times

Darrell Issa’s nomination to serve as a Trump administration trade official hit a roadblock Thursday amid concerns over something in the former California congressman’s FBI background file. Los Angeles Times

More questions about the California insurance commissioner’s relationship with donors. San Diego Union-Tribune

Is this the solution for the California debate about paying athletes? Wall Street Journal

Border Patrol agents are beginning to screen migrant families for “credible fear” instead of highly trained asylum officers who are charged with determining whether applicants qualify for U.S. protection. Los Angeles Times


The Bay Area wealth and development boom is about to hit sleepy Treasure Island in a big way. San Francisco Chronicle

Gut check: What are you doing to reduce climate change? LAist

The Silicon Valley haven of Los Gatos claims mapping apps are ruining the upscale, rustic town. Mercury News

Celebrating Mexican independence day in a Central American enclave. New York Times

Sacramento’s trees — a needed protection against the oppressive heat — are under threat. Sacramento Bee


Los Angeles: sunny, 81. San Diego: sunny, 75. San Francisco: sunny, 77. San Jose: sunny, 84. Sacramento: sunny, 86. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Frank Gesicki:

“In 1965 as a 15-year-old, I worked at Woodie’s Goodies concession stand at Alamitos Bay in Belmont Shore, Long Beach. Touching the edge of soda cups as they filled so I could watch all the pretty girls in bikinis... We played three-wall handball, barefoot, and swam in the cool water as we waited to be called in for work. After work, we would take our pay and rent Honda 50s on Second Street. (No questions asked.) Evenings we might go to the jetty and drink beer we got strangers to buy for us.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.