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Sheriff’s Department reveals sketch of suspect in 2005 Hacienda Heights slaying

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Edward Berber’s mother, Rosa Berber, right, and his sister, Alejandra Johnson, appear at a news conference to announce a person of interest in his 2005 slaying.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Rosa Berber spoke to her son Edward nearly every day.

Whether they talked by phone or in person, the two maintained a strong bond. Even though he lived on his own, Edward was happy to have his mother drop by with a home-cooked meal, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Gina Eguia.

So when she didn’t hear from Edward for several days in early December 2005, Berber got worried. Using a key Edward made for her, she went to his Hacienda Heights home.

Inside, she found her son’s body.

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On Tuesday, more than 12 years after Berber’s slaying, the Sheriff’s Department released a composite sketch of the man they think shot and killed Berber while he slept. Officials asked for the public’s assistance in tracking the suspect down.

“We believe we can show you the face of a killer,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

Edward Berber, 27, was gunned down between Dec. 2 and 5, 2005, in the 1800 block of Charlemont Avenue, investigators said. The composite sketch released Tuesday was based on interviews conducted shortly after Berber was killed and a second round of interviews completed earlier this year, according to Capt. Chris Bergner, of the sheriff’s homicide bureau.

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, JULY 17, 2018: Alejandra Johnson, left, sister of the victim, shown
Alejandra Johnson, left, sister of the Edward Berber, appears with a sketch of a person of interest in the 2005 case.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

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The composite displayed what the suspect would have looked like at the time of the shooting, according to Bergner, who would not elaborate on what new information helped detectives create the sketch.

Berber was a father of two and was going through a divorce at the time of the shooting, Bergner said. His children were with his estranged wife when he was shot, but the Sheriff’s Department does not have any information suggesting she played a role in his death, Bergner said.

The victim’s sister, Alejandra Johnson, said her brother had obtained his master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame shortly before he was killed and was hoping to become a certified public accountant. He was working at an accounting firm at the time of the killing, according to Eguia.

“My brother had goals,” Johnson said.

Investigators would not describe the weapon or say how many shots were fired. There were no signs of forced entry at Berber’s home and nothing was stolen, according to the Sheriff’s Department. A motive in the slaying was not immediately clear.

“There’s nothing in Edward’s background to suggest he had a falling-out with anyone in the neighborhood,” said Sgt. Robert Martindale of the sheriff’s homicide bureau.

On Tuesday morning, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also approved a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in connection with Berber’s death, McDonnell said.

“Nearly 13 years after Edward Berber was murdered, we have a chance to solve this case and finally bring justice to Edward’s family,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. “If you recognize the sketch of the person of interest or have any information about this murder — I urge you to do the right thing and share what you know with the Sheriff’s Department.”

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james.queally@latimes.com

For more breaking crime and cops news in Southern California, follow me on Twitter: @JamesQueallyLAT


UPDATES:

2:50 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

This article was originally published at 12:10 p.m.


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