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Second suspect identified in 35-year-old murder case

Los Angeles police have identified a second suspect in connection with the suffocation slaying of an 80-year-old Mar Vista woman, a crime that occurred 35 years ago this month, authorities said Wednesday.

Kevin Shanahan has been charged with murder by Los Angeles County prosecutors, authorities said. He is currently in custody in Olmstead, Minn., pending extradition to California.

Investigators said Shanahan was a 15-year high school student when, on Dec. 17, 1975, he and another boy allegedly raped and suffocated Alice Lewis after breaking into her home. Detectives described this as the first multi-defendant case of its kind in the decade-old history of the Los Angeles Police Department's cold-case homicide unit.

"As a homicide detective, it's rewarding to be able to use technology to solve cases that were thought to be unsolvable," said LAPD Det. Tim Marcia.

In September 2009, authorities charged Dennis Vasquez, 51, of Los Angeles, in connection with the case. Vasquez was 16 at the time of the killing. Minors typically are not identified by the court or tried as adults, but because Vasquez was arrested decades after the crime, a judge found he was unfit to be tried as a juvenile.

Vasquez had been arrested on an unrelated crime, which led to a swab of his DNA being taken by authorities.

That led to a "cold hit" on a DNA sample from the 1975 crime that had been placed in the state database about seven years ago, according to Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Detectives said Vasquez indicated that he may have participated in the burglary with another person. Cold-case detectives identified Shanahan, a convicted bank robber, through fingerprints found at the scene and other investigative work.


Mar Vista neighbors still recall 1975 rape and murder

Suspect identified in 1975 rape and murder of elderly Mar Vista woman

-- Andrew Blankstein
Twitter: @anblanx @latimescitydesk @lanow

Comments () | Archives (10)

The Los Angeles Police Department's cold-case homicide unit is the epitomy of what law enforcement is all about. Kudos to LAPD investigators for their outstanding service, unwavering tenacity and a job well done.


Bill Pavelic

Hopefully now her family will have closure.

There is probably going to be a time in the future when it will be nearly impossible to get away with a crime. Some of these people today probably think they got away clean but you just never know what 30 years or so will bring in new technology.

Both of those dudes sound like dirty, rotten bastards. Glad they finally got caught for the crime. If we could just rid the world of these types ....

Sound like a couple of lifetime scumbags. Thank god for 3 strikes. Lets face it, statistics show that an indivdual gets caught once in every 40 times on average for committing a crime. Only 1 in 10 felony cases actually get convicted for a felony, with all the plea bargaining that happens. So if you have 3 violent felony convictions, you are either extremely unlucky/stupid or you are committing a LOT of crimes. I can't imagine being imprisioned for even a day. For some of these idiots, it is a way of life. I say put them to work at hard labor in prison and if you refuse, then 24 hour lockdown in a 5 x 8 cell. No tv, no weights, just you and your thoughts. A lot less people would be going to prison.

Bring back the chain gangs. The prisoners, if not put to death for their crimes, should do public work to payback the cost for their prosecution.

These two men better have enjoyed their lives since committing this unspeakable crime, because they are truly going to hell now, be it San Quentin or Soledad. I know, it's too good for them but it's the best we can do, given the present state of the death penalty.

Better late than ever. I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail.

Bravo, Detectives! I love reading about stuff like this.



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