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Online rumors of South Bay serial killer are unfounded, LAPD says

January 12, 2012 | 10:11 am

Word spread quickly on Facebook, as it usually does, when rumors of a serial killer supposedly pursuing women in Wilmington and San Pedro began popping up on the social media site.

On the Facebook page Life in Wilmington -- on which residents discuss events in the community, look for apartments or report deaths of longtime neighbors -- members wrote frantic posts after the Jan. 2 death of Cristin Alvarez, a 28-year-old woman whose throat was slashed.

The posts, which started Jan. 5, warned that other women had been attacked near Harbor College and the San Pedro public library. And the page's organizers wrote: "ATTENTION ALL WOMAN, ANOTHER FEMALE BODY HAS BEEN FOUND NEAR ALAMEDA AND ANAHEIM ST, PLEASE BE ALERT IT MIGHT BE A SERIAL KILLER!!!"

One of the page's more than 5,000 fans forwarded the alert, with its hundreds of comments, to the Daily Breeze in Torrance. The paper forwarded it to the Los Angeles Police Department, which says no serial murderer has been lurking in the area.

LAPD Deputy Chief Patrick Gannon, who said he heard the rumors from his wife, told the Daily Breeze that although in the past year five homicides have occurred near where Alvarez died, a serial killer was not responsible. 

"We've had nothing like that in the area," Gannon said. "We are all concerned, obviously, and homicides this past year in Wilmington jumped up on us. But they are not attributed to a serial killer."

After the Daily Breeze report, Life in Wilmington acknowledged Wednesday night that erred in issuing an alert:

As you may all know We "LIW" posted a False report and today in the Daily Breeze we got our hands slapped :( or as we say put on blast! LIW will posts information as it comes to US. We would rather have Everyone be careful and enjoy everday without fear about our city than to live in Fear. Sorry for the confusion and Buenas Noches 90744'rs or as we say Wilmingtonians

The page's regular readers don't seem inclined to cast blame.

"I don't see anything wrong with what u posted," one wrote. "You were just passing on info that u got. True or not ur passing out info to keep people of wilmington safe.. Thank you."

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-- Rick Rojas

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