For about two years, James "Todd" Brown did odd jobs for a family in Palmdale. During that time, he paid rent to live in a trailer on their two-plus-acre property.
Nearly two weeks ago, investigators say, the man disappeared. In the home, they found the family — a married couple and a son — stabbed, beaten and suffocated to death. Their three dogs had also been killed.
Now Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives are asking for the public's help in finding Brown, a suspect in the slayings of Richard Gardner II, 78, his wife; Pepper Gardner, 56; and the man's son, Richard Gardner III, 52. Last week, they identified Brown as a person of interest.
"We're telling the public, 'Hey, consider him dangerous; if you see him just call 911,' " said Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff's Department, who added that the killings may have stemmed from a dispute over rent.
Detectives responded to the house after the sister of one of the victims became concerned about her brother and called authorities.
Investigators believe Brown, who has family and friends in the Inland Empire and Antelope Valley, is still somewhere in the Southland. He recently lost a workers compensation claim for disability, which "may have had something to do with his state of mind," Corina said.
Brown is white, 54 years old, 6 feet tall, 265 pounds, and has brownish gray hair and brown eyes. He may be driving a 2002 silver Toyota Tacoma pickup with a camper shell. The California license plate number is 42198C1.
Anyone with information about Brown's whereabouts is asked to call Sgt. Eric Arias or Det. Gail Durham at (323) 890-5500.