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Home-robbery suspect tied to four killings in Hawthorne, South L.A.

November 3, 2010 | 11:08 am

Leamond and Robyn Turnage

A Los Angeles man is suspected in the killings of four people during three separate home robberies in the last few months.

John Wesley Ewell, 53, already facing capital murder charges in connection with the killing of a couple in Hawthorne during a robbery, has been charged with two more separate murders. 

He had been charged with two counts each of murder and residential robbery along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during an Oct. 22 robbery in connection with the beating and strangulation deaths of Leamon Turnage, 69, and his wife, Robyn, 57.

On Wednesday, L.A. prosecutors charged Ewell with two more killings, one in Hawthorne and another near his home in Los Angeles. Both of the crimes were allegedly committed during similar home break-in robberies, said Jane Robison, a district attorney’s office spokeswoman.

Ewell is charged with the Sept. 24 slaying of Hanna Morcos in Hawthorne and Oct. 13 killing of Denise Roberts in Los Angeles. Roberts, 53, was found bound and gagged with bruising to the neck in 12000 block of South Hoover Street.

Morcos was found about 8:30 p.m. face down in his apartment in the 4100 block of West 137th Street. His wife was in the house at the time of the attack but was not injured.

Prosecutors say they will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Ewell. Since Ewell’s arrest Oct. 25 in connection with the Turnages' slayings he has been the focus of a widespread homicide probe. The Turnages were found dead about 3:45 p.m. in their ransacked home in the 4100 block of West 142nd Street.

The victims, who were bound and gagged, had returned to the Southland from a trip to Florida to visit their son and daughter-in-law for the birth of their first grandchild, according to sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman.

Leamon Turnage was murdered in his garage, then the killer went inside the house and murdered the victim's wife, according to detectives, who described the suspect as an ex-con who lived in the area. Detectives were able to nab the suspect after determining that he had used Turnage's ATM card at a nearby Shell station, according to the Sheriff's Department.

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Leamond and Robyn Turnage. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department via KTLA News)

Click to visit The Times' interactive Homicide Report

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