The aunt of a UCLA student found stabbed to death in her Westwood apartment last month said Monday that her family wonders whether Los Angeles police officers could have saved her life when they responded to a call of a woman screaming at the apartment complex earlier that morning.
Melanie Peskett, Andrea DelVesco’s aunt, said LAPD officials told the family weeks ago that officers responded to the building on Roebling Avenue earlier that morning but did not enter her niece’s apartment.
A fire later engulfed the apartment shortly after 7 a.m. on Sept. 21. Inside, firefighters found the 21-year-old DelVesco’s body. She had been stabbed multiple times.
Prosecutors allege that DelVesco’s killer set fire to her apartment in an attempt to destroy evidence.
“It is a tragedy because you don’t know if she was alive or not when officers came there,” Peskett said.
DelVesco’s family, she said, is grateful that LAPD detectives made an arrest in the killing "but would’ve been happier if they’d saved her life.”
She said she wants the LAPD to change its policies to ensure that officers do a more thorough job of checking on such calls.
“It is too late for Andrea, but someone else’s life can be saved,” she said.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said last week that the department has launched an internal affairs probe into the actions of the four officers who went to DelVesco’s apartment building in response to a 911 call and left before the fire was reported.
Smith said the department would not comment on what kind of 911 call prompted the officers to go to the apartment building that morning, what time they arrived, what actions they took and when they left.
“What they did at the location is the subject of the internal affairs investigation,” Smith said last week.
Dmitry Gorin, an attorney representing the man accused of carrying out the killing, said police documents turned over to him show that the officers responded to a report of a woman screaming at the apartment complex.
Gorin said homicide detectives noted in the records that they spoke to one or two residents of the complex who said they called police about screams they heard before the fire. He said it was unclear from the records he has reviewed what actions the officers took before leaving.
Three of the officers who went to the apartment complex have been assigned to desk duty, according to Smith. The fourth remains on patrol.
DelVesco, a native of Austin, Texas, was a fourth-year psychology student. Her sorority sisters identified her as a member of Pi Beta Phi.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office last month charged Alberto Hinojosa Medina and Eric Marquez, both 22-year-old students, in DelVesco’s death. They have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors allege that Medina and Marquez were responsible for a burglary in which a laptop and stereo speakers were stolen from another apartment nearby before DelVesco was killed. Medina is accused of entering DelVesco’s apartment and stabbing her before setting a fire and fleeing.
Medina was a junior at Fresno State University, where he was studying psychology and social work. Marquez was a pre-med senior at UCLA.
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