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Alhambra man arrested in 1981 slaying, LAPD says

Abraham Tovar in 1975, left, and this year

More than three decades after Charles McGhee was killed, 73-year-old Abraham Tovar was arrested at an Alhambra home, police said Thursday.

On New Year's Day in 1981, McGhee was shot and beaten to death in a vacant lot in South Los Angeles.

Detectives suspected that McGhee had been slain by Abraham Tovar and his brother Andrew Tovar, both of whom had been in a dispute earlier with a man at the lot in the 2300 block of Central Avenue, said Lt. Andy Neiman of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Allegedly armed with a handgun and hatchet, the Tovar brothers returned to the lot looking for the man. Unable to find him, they instead attacked Charles McGhee and Wayne Alexis, according to Neiman.

Abraham Tovar is suspected of shooting both victims, the LAPD said. McGhee died at the scene, but Alexis survived and later testified against Andrew Tovar, now dead. He served time in state prison, Neiman said. 

Abraham Tovar disappeared after the attack.

LAPD Newton Division homicide detectives assigned to cold cases began poring over evidence and following new leads. They discovered that Abraham Tovar was living in Alhambra. He was arrested Wednesday on an outstanding felony homicide warrant, police said.  

Det. Leonardo McKenzie said the arrest concluded a months-long investigation that resulted in two search warrants being issued, several days of surveillance, and numerous interviews with the suspect’s family members and friends. According to voter registration records, Tovar lived in a home on Chapel Avenue since 2008.

"This is a perfect example," Neiman said, "of how sooner or later, the long arms of the law will catch up with criminals."


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-- Richard Winton

Photos: Abraham Tovar in 1975, left, and this year. Credit: Los Angeles Police Department

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