Police arrest man suspected of beating a 76-year-old in Venice, who later died

Map showing site of Venice attack.
Obie Thompson, 45, was arrested in the beating of commercial photographer John Decindis, 76, who later died.

Detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department said Thursday they’d arrested a man suspected of fatally beating a 76-year-old on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice’s famed shopping and dining thoroughfare.

John Decindis, a commercial photographer, was hospitalized last month after being assaulted in the 1500 block of Abbot Kinney, the LAPD said in a statement. On Feb. 8, he told a social worker at the hospital he’d been attacked but did not want to file a police report, according to the LAPD.

Decindis was released from the hospital but later returned as he struggled to recover from his injuries. He died Feb. 27, and the Los Angeles medical examiner-coroner ruled his death a homicide, caused by the delayed effects of blunt-force trauma.


Although Decindis declined to report the assault to the police, he recounted it to others, the LAPD said. He had been walking his dog when a man confronted him near the intersection of Abbot Kinney and Milwood Avenue.

The man, whom Decindis had seen previously in the neighborhood, followed the septuagenarian for some length and then attacked him, the police said. They did not immediately detail the date and time of day of the attack.

LAPD officers on Tuesday arrested Obie Thompson, 45, on suspicion of killing Decindis. Investigators haven’t identified a motive for the fatal beating.

Los Angeles County prosecutors on Thursday charged Thompson with murder and elder abuse, according to the LAPD. Police described Thompson as homeless. He was being held in county jail Thursday in lieu of $2-million bail.

It couldn’t be determined Thursday evening whether Thompson had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

Decindis worked for decades as a commercial photographer, according to his website. After graduating from Penn State University with a degree in landscape architecture, Decindis worked for a year at a Boston architecture firm, then decided to pursue a love for photography he’d picked up in college.

“John decided to devote all his time to photography in his daylight hours and be a bartender by night,” his website says. He worked as a commercial photographer and at the Tucson Museum of Art until 1988, when he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a focus in fashion photography, according to his website.