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LAPD tells homeless to seek shelter after 3 'death warrant' stabbings

July 19, 2012 |  6:52 pm

The Los Angeles Police Department took the unusual step Thursday of urging homeless people to get off the street and seek shelter at night after three transients were stabbed in their sleep by an assailant who left behind rambling “death warrants.”

Detectives said the attacks all occurred in July and involved middle-aged homeless people who stabbed in the back. The attacker left signed pieces paper that he labeled as “death warrants” at the scene of each crime.

Person Of Interest - Homeless StabbingsPolice release a photo of a man who they described as a “person of interest.”  David Ben Keyes, who has been missing for weeks from the Santa Barbara area, is being sought by detectives with the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division and Santa Monica Police Department for questioning. Officials said Keyes’ name appears on all three notes.

LAPD Capt. Billy Hayes publicly urged homeless people to find nighttime shelter or at the very least stay in groups until a suspect is caught.

“With numbers, there is safety,” Hayes said at a news conference.

The first incident was reported July 4 when a 56-year-old homeless man was found bleeding with a large "hunting-type" knife protruding from his back near the intersection of 3rd and Main streets in Los Angeles, according to sources. The man crawled 100 yards looking for help while the weapon was lodged between his shoulder blades.

On Tuesday, another homeless man was stabbed in a similar manner as he slept on a Santa Monica bus bench near the Third Street Promenade. Santa Monica police Sgt. Richard Lewis confirmed that a similar note was found by detectives but did not give details.

On Thursday, a 54-year-old homeless woman was stabbed in the back as she slept near the intersection of La Brea and De Longpre avenues, blocks away from Hollywood High School. Police recovered a black kitchen knife and another "warrant," also signed by the suspect.


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Photo: David Ben Keyes, described by police as a "person of interest" in the "death warrant" case. Credit: Los Angeles Police Department