Firefighter, deputy in suspected murder-suicide are identified

Police investigators and an Emergency Response crew clean up a house in La Cañada-Flintridge Monday morning, where an apparent murder/suicide took place on Sunday night.

Police investigators and an Emergency Response crew clean up a house in La Cañada-Flintridge Monday morning, where an apparent murder/suicide took place on Sunday night.

(Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times)

Shortly after sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a report of a screaming woman in a house in La Cañada-Flintridge on Sunday, an unidentified male voice was heard on the emergency services radio channel describing exactly what authorities would find.

“There’s going to be one DB,” the man said, using shorthand for a dead body. “No assailant. You can let them know it’s clear.”

Speaking rapidly but calmly, he continued, “Also, there’s going to be one DB” at a Pacoima warehouse.

He ended the transmission with an oddly casual sign-off: “Thank you and good night.”

Arriving officers found one of their colleagues, L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Cecilia Hoschet, shot dead inside the home. They later discovered her husband, county firefighter James M. Taylor, dead at the Pacoima fire facility where he worked.


On Monday, homicide detectives were scrutinizing the radio call on the theory that Taylor, 35, was the voice on the radio, reporting both the slaying he had committed and the suicide he was about to. Fire officials declined to comment on whether the voice sounded like Taylor’s, but a county Fire Department spokesman, Randall Wright, acknowledged “that aspect is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.”

The slaying of one public servant allegedly by another stunned both agencies, even more so because of the presence of the couple’s 6-year-old son at the home. “There is no way to explain this to a child,” L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

Authorities say the boy was in the Crown Avenue house about 10 p.m. when Taylor shot Hoschet, 32. It was not clear whether the child witnessed the shooting.

Sheriff’s Lt. David Coleman said that after gunning down his wife, Taylor took the boy to a relative without revealing what he had done, and then drove his county-issued vehicle to Pacoima. He was found dead there from a single gunshot wound. He had his radio with him, Coleman said, and the gun that killed him was consistent with the one that killed his wife.

Investigators were confident about how and when the two shootings occurred, but were trying to understand why, Coleman said. The couple had no known history of domestic violence, no restraining orders and no divorce proceedings.

“We have no indication of why this tragedy occurred. He didn’t say anything to explain” or leave a note behind, Coleman said. Investigators were interviewing family members and friends Monday, he said.

The couple had financial difficulties in the past. They filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after an investment property they had purchased in Canyon Country became mired in debt. They emerged from bankruptcy two years ago.

Both Hoschet and Taylor were paramedics. Before joining the Sheriff’s Department two years ago, Hoschet worked as a paramedic for a private ambulance company and for the city of Sierra Madre. At the time of her death, she was assigned to the jail’s inmate reception center.

“We lost a wonderful deputy,” McDonnell said. Hoschet, he said, “impressed everyone she met … with her positive and helpful approach to her work.”

Taylor was a six-year veteran of the Fire Department. In a statement, Chief Daryl Osby said, “Today is a sad day for all public safety personnel in Los Angeles County.”

On Monday morning, a U.S. flag fluttered outside the couple’s front door. On the passenger seat of a car parked in front of the house lay a receipt for Disneyland parking dated Sept. 6 — the day of the shooting.

“Her son was her life,” said Sierra Madre fire engineer Edward Hughes. He and other former colleagues in the small, mostly volunteer fire department struggled Sunday with news of her violent death. Hughes fielded numerous phone calls from firefighters who had heard about the shooting.

“It is Cece,” Hughes confirmed to one colleague who phoned. “She’s been killed by her husband.”

Hoschet worked for the fire agency for six years before becoming a deputy. “She was a great mother, a great lady and a great firefighter paramedic,” Hughes said.

Times staff writer Harriet Ryan contributed to this report.

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