Roommate arrested in slaying of 67-year-old-man in Westmont

Westmont, an unincorporated neighborhood in the South L.A. region of Los Angeles County, has one of the highest homicides rates in the county.
(Homicide Report / Los Angeles Times)

Authorities said Tuesday that they had arrested a man suspected of killing his 67-year-old roommate at their shared home in Westmont on Sunday.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies detained Toriano Benford, 43, at 12:20 p.m. on Monday as a suspect in the slaying of Ernest Dewitt Brannon, 67. Benford’s bail was set at about $1 million.

Authorities said Benford and Brannon, a minister, were both renting a room in a house in Westmont, an unincorporated neighborhood with one of the highest homicide rates in the county. At least 14 other people have been killed there in the last 12 months.

HOMICIDE REPORT: A story for every victim

A neighbor discovered Brannon’s body on Sunday in the back bedroom of the house. The home had been ransacked and there were signs of a struggle, authorities said. It was unclear if any property was stolen.


The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said Brannon was killed by strangulation and injuries to his neck.

Benford was expected to appear in court Wednesday morning.

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