Los Angeles police are investigating potential links between the kidnapping of a teenage girl who was doused with flammable liquid and two other South L.A. attacks that left two women and a 1-year-old boy dead.
The suspect, Robert Ransom Jr., 30, has been charged with nine felony counts related to the attack on the 16-year-old, including rape, attempted murder, kidnapping and assault, according to a complaint filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He pleaded not guilty to the charges April 8, said Shiara Dávila-Morales, a spokeswoman for the district attorney.
But LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith confirmed Friday that detectives with the Robbery-Homicide Division are looking into any connection between the March 20 incident and the others, which involved women who were bound and burned not far from where the teenager was kidnapped at knife point.
On March 2, a 19-year-old woman died after she was found near the corner of West 93rd Street and South Grand Avenue. Three days later, in the 100 block of East 50th Street, a 28-year-old woman and her son were found dead after a fire broke out in their home.
Investigators later said it appeared the fire was intentionally set and found evidence that Gisella Yauli, 28, had been tied up in a bedroom. Yauli and her 1-year-old son, Dillan Reyes, died from smoke inhalation.
The teenager was kidnapped about two weeks later, on March 20. She was walking home from her high school when police allege Ransom approached her on East Gage Avenue near South San Pedro Street. There, Ransom allegedly used a knife to force the girl into a white van.
Police allege Ransom drove to two other locations before the teenager was able to escape near Imperial Highway and New Hampshire Avenue. A witness told investigators the girl had been bound and was drenched in some type of liquid.
Court documents allege Ransom had bound the girl and covered her with a substance “with the intent to injure the flesh and disfigure the body.”
A week after the kidnapping, the LAPD said Ransom -- who has previous felony convictions for robbery, assault and being a felon in possession with a firearm -- was arrested on a parole violation. On April 4, while he was still in custody, charges were filed in connection with the attack on the teenager.
Ransom, who is being held without bail, is due back in court May 22. Pending the outcome of the police investigation, Dávila-Morales said other charges could be filed.
“He seems like just a monster,” Smith said. “Who would do that to somebody?”