The Los Angeles Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the actions of several officers who responded to a report of a screaming woman at a Westwood apartment complex where a UCLA student was found dead later that morning.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Friday that four officers conducted an investigation at the building after a 911 call and left sometime before a fire was reported and Andrea DelVesco was found fatally stabbed.
Prosecutors allege that her killer set fire to her apartment in an attempt to destroy evidence.
More than two dozen firefighters responded to the blaze that engulfed the apartment on Roebling Avenue shortly after 7 a.m. on Sept. 21. Inside the smoked-filled home, firefighters found the 21-year-old student’s body. She had been stabbed multiple times.
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
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 whether the officers entered the apartment building or what actions they took before leaving.
Whether DelVesco was dead by the time the officers arrived is unclear.
Of the four officers who went to the apartment complex that morning, three 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.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck last month described her killing as “a horrific crime that I know shocked the school and much of Los Angeles.”
“I know that I am sleeping more comfortably at night and the public should also,” he told reporters after arrests were made in the case. He did not mention that some of his officers had responded to the scene before the blaze.
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.
During the stabbing, prosecutors allege Marquez was in Medina’s car — emblazoned with distinct red Greek lettering on the back — near DelVesco’s apartment.
A surveillance video captured Medina wearing a Snuggie blanket belonging to DelVesco “covering up blood on his shirt” as he returns to Marquez’s apartment a few blocks away from the scene of the slaying, a prosecutor told a judge during a court hearing last month.
Medina was a junior at Fresno State University, where he was studying psychology and social work. Marquez was a pre-med senior at UCLA.
Both men face one count of murder and two counts of first-degree burglary. Medina is also charged with arson.
Medina also faces a special-circumstance allegation that he committed murder while carrying out a burglary, and prosecutors could seek the death penalty if he is convicted.
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