Twin brothers charged in robbery, slaying of woman in South L.A.

Twin brothers charged in robbery, slaying of woman in South L.A.
LAPD criminal gang homicide division detectives and family members gather at the LAPD's 77th Street station as officials announce the arrests of two suspects in the fatal robbery and stabbing of Maria Elena Rivas. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Eighteen-year-old twin brothers have been charged with capital murder in connection with a South Los Angeles robbery and fatal stabbing of a 62-year-old seamstress in December, authorities said.

Kenyata Blake and Keishon Blake were each charged with one count of murder and two counts of second-degree robbery with special circumstances, police said at an afternoon news conference.


Police said the brothers are also believed to be involved in a Mid-City robbery that occurred Jan. 23. That victim was not killed.

LAPD Det. Robert Lait said both robbery victims were middle-aged or older and were walking alone at the time of the attacks. Lait added that there are a number of unsolved robberies in the area. He urged the public to call police if they recognize the two men.

"We're looking into all" of the robberies, he said. "If you have been a victim of a robbery, please let us know."

On Dec. 22, Maria Elena Rivas-Lomeli had just gotten off the bus from work, bought groceries at a Ralphs supermarket and was walking home when she was attacked from behind and stabbed, police said.

Paramedics took the 62-year-old woman to a hospital, where she died.

Security video taken from the supermarket showed that Rivas-Lomeli used money from a large wallet that she kept in her purse to pay for the groceries. The purse and the groceries were missing after the attack.

Lait said various weapons were used in the attacks. He called the public's help in the case "instrumental."

"There were a lot of concerned people who called," he said, adding that the woman's employer even stepped up to offer a reward.  "This woman was very loved by the community."

Rivas-Lomeli's nephew German Contreras, 25, said he grew up with his aunt. He said she was about three blocks away from home when she was attacked.

"Her life was just based on working," he said.

Anyone with information about the robberies asked to call the Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (213) 485-4341.

For more homicide-related news, follow @nicolesantacruz.