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Murder-suicide claims the life of a 16-year-old Lincoln Heights girl, police say

A 20-year-old man shot and killed his teenage girlfriend Friday night during a domestic dispute in Lincoln Heights before turning the gun on himself, police said

The shooting was reported about 8:30 p.m. at an apartment complex in the 2400 block of Daly Street. Police officers of LAPD's Hollenbeck Division found a teenage girl dead from a gunshot wound to the back of the head, said LAPD Officer Gregory Baek. She was identified by the LAPD as Maria Valderrama, 16.

A short time later, as police searched for the gunman, the 20-year-old man, identified by police as Juan Carlos Mendez, was found in a nearby alley with a gunshot wound to the chest area, Baek said.

"At some point, either at the scene or in the ambulance, he admitted to shooting the girl," Baek said.

Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police said Mendez and Valderrama had been dating for two years and were involved in a dispute at the apartment when Mendez allegedly shot her. He then fled and shot himself nearby, Baek said.

-- Ruben Vives

Comments () | Archives (35)

Things happen...no one is to judge!

This is what happens when boyfriends are given a lifetime CHILD SEX OFFENDER status FOR LIFE!

The girl was 16, and "had been dating" the killer/boyfriend for 2 years - since she was 14. While a 4-year age difference means little or nothing as people age, a 14-year old girl should not have been allowed to get involved with an 18-year old let alone seriously and apparently exclusively over the past 2 years.

IF as would be normal for a girl her age to want to start to date and hang out with kids in high school, and the boyfriend couldn't take it, I wonder: where were her parents all this time?

WHY has it suddenly become not only normal but somehow expected that kids as young as 13-15 have serious relationships including with older people? Not only in the lower-economic Latino areas like this one, but even in upscale neighborhoods in L A and all over the country - fostered by tv shows about spoiled, rich teenagers in Laguna or New York City or Atlanta.

They're supposed to be focusing on school, their future, being kids and having kids - none of which this girl will have.

Why didn't the parents have this freak arrested when he was messing with their 14 year old daughter? Why does the Hispanic culture tolerate older men messing with young girls? He was 18 and she was 14 when they got together - that is illegal but then again they probably were too.

Perhaps it's a staged double murder.

Where does it say the victims are Mexican?

I thought these posts were being moderated. What, exactly, does the name calling by "the watchdog" add to the discussion?

If there isn't actually any moderation, please post the comments immediately so we can have a real discussion.

I agree with "a mom" in asking Where were the girl's parents. Where were the girl's friends? Had she abandoned her friends or they her? The level of abuse in this relationship had to have been evident to others close to the girl.

is hat all u know about this?

Wow, Times, way to censor racist, vulgar language...

The twenty year old adult should have been in jail for statutory rape. If he had been locked-up where he belongs, this girl might be alive today. I'll bet a dollar to a donut the girl's family is in contact with a lawyer to see if they can sue the city for not protecting their child. Only in America.

What is with all the racist stuff? How did that make it through the supposed moderation? *Is* there moderation? And if yes, what exactly would bar something from being posted?

Two people are dead, which is a tragedy. Some people seize on this to spew ignorant hatred.


Many of the comments posted here are frightening and vulgar. Many people with hispanic surnames are native to America and their forebears may have been here for hundreds of years. The parents may have or may not have adequately supervised their daughter. As the mother of 3 grown daughters I know that teenagers do not always behave as you want or tell them to at age 16. To the families of both the victim and the shooter, I send condolences. Since I don't know exactly what happened or or why. I feel it is wrong to say racist, hateful or cruel things about them...or their surviving relatives. Why add nasty comments to an already horrible tragedy?

While the racist comments are stupid at best, aren't the liberals the bastions of enforcement of free speech? Or is free speech a cherished principle only if I agree with it?

Some of you are asking the Times to censor Americans' statements. Be careful, selective morality starts one down a slippery slope.

Why didn't the parents have this guy arrested two years ago? Makes no sense.

PS: I dunno if censoring racist morons is the right thing to do. They do an exceptional job of making themselves and their POV look absolutely idiotic. They are the rotten fruit in the marketplace of ideas.

The comments on the LA Times are almost as bad as those posted on the LA Daily News. There's no need for racism. The actions of certain people regardless of their heritage should not embody the larger group. The majority of Latinos in America are hardworking people that come here to make a better life for themselves and their families. It's that small percentage, which is in every race, that ruins it for the rest of us. Let's not be ignorant.

I am appalled at the comments that the Times has allowed to be posted.

Just because someone has a Latino surname does not mean he or she is Mexican (there are many Latin-American countries too) or illegal. It is very ignorant and irresponsible for some of you to immediately jump to conclusions.
Several of you have missed the actual news of this story. A 16-year-old girl was shot and killed by her 20-year-old boyfriend. Domestic violence and statutory rape are two issues raised by this story, not race or legal status.

tragic. but the guy shot himself and the state saved itself hundreds of thousands of dollars of processing and incarceration costs for him. The girl: she'd been sexually active since at least 14 yrs. old -- but how emotionally and psychologically prepared are these young women for the relationships that come with the sex? Or, predictably, the pregnancy? Esp. if the guy is older, which alot of them are. worse case scenario/motive: she was pregnant, but by another guy.

Peace on Earth...Good will towards men and women...It seems impossible...I hope not.

Yes, the Times needs to monitor the comments to maintain a civilized tone. (I read that the NY Times employs 11 people to monitor online comments). The fact is, this event could have happened in any ethnic group.


It's 2009 and there are still ignorant, racist people who take it upon themselves to self-righteously post hateful garbage.

Moderators....why aren't you moderating?

little mexico? are you serious? if you don't like it here go back to where you came from. i'm a native american, i know i was here befor you, and i know the mexicans were her befor. don't be quick to judge everyone by what some bad and sick indivuals do. we all live in glass houses, doubt that yours is better then anyone else...

This is tragic. The parents should be arrested for allowing their daughter Maria to be abused by an adult, (since Maria began dating him when she was 14).

I know its not the time to blame the parents when they are hurting, but they are solely responsible for what happened by allowing her to date him and not providing the adequate supervision for her. She should have been studying and hanging out with friends or even with a boyfriend, as long as he was her age.

These kind of stories piss me off because parents can be so ignorant when it comes to raising their children. Sad, sad story....her parents, family members, and neighbors didn't protect her by calling the police. Anyone who knew this kid was dating an older man should have reported it to the police. The story doesn't say so, but it sounds like they were living together already.

What a shame!

Now the Times has censored the racist comments without indicating it has done so. That makes those who complained about lack of censorship of racism look as if they were foolishly complaining about nothing since the comments they were complaining about no longer are there.

I wrote a comment stating that I was glad the Times did not censor the racism because we should all know about the extent of racism in our community. That comment was not posted. I suppose whoever is in charge of comments thought it was moot. It is not; I protest deletion of these racist comments. This censorship results in hiding one of the grave problems our community faces: racism.

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