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Valley Village slaying suspect captured in Mexico

October 12, 2010 |  6:06 pm

A 34-year-old parolee charged in absentia by Los Angeles County prosecutors with fatally stabbing a Valley Village woman during a burglary and setting fire to her home was apprehended Tuesday in Mexico, authorities said.

Omar Armando Loera was arrested in Mexicali by Mexican authorities working with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Los Angeles Police Department, according to multiple sources familiar with the case. But LAPD detectives have yet to officially identify him.

Loera was charged last month with one count each of murder, burglary, arson and assault with a deadly weapon in the July 24 slaying of Cheree Osmanhodzic, 34, whose wedding was to have been in late September.

Prosecutors also charged the parolee with the special circumstances of murder during a burglary and arson, which could make him eligible for the death penalty.

Shortly after Loera was charged, LAPD officers were called to Fryman Canyon after reported sightings of a man who fit Leora's description. For more than six hours, LAPD officers in helicopters, on horseback and in off-road vehicles combed the rugged hills and hiking trails for the suspect but he did not turn up.

Loera was identified as the suspect in the July slaying after DNA and other unspecified evidence found at the scene provided the needed break in the case.

He had gained early release from state prison in February after serving 23 months of a 32-month sentence in connection with a 2008 armed robbery.

In July, police said he broke into one of the triplex units where Osmanhodzic lived with her fiance and killed the woman. That day, Osamhodzic had been shopping for a wedding dress with her mother and fiance, Adam Culvey.

Culvey told police he returned to the couple's home after running errands, put his key in the door and began to push it open. He felt resistance.

Moments later, he confronted a stranger, who ran out and sprinted down the block. Culvey said he chased the intruder then walked back to his residence to find that it was on fire. Inside, firefighters discovered Osmanhodzic, dead on the bedroom floor from multiple stab wounds.

-- Andrew Blankstein