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Downtown: Lily Burk, 17 [Updated]

July 26, 2009 |  3:55 pm

LilyburkLily Burk, a 17-year old white girl, was found slain in her car in a parking lot surrounded by warehouses near downtown Los Angeles on the morning of Saturday, July 25, authorities said.

Burk, a student at Oakwood School in North Hollywood, had left her Los Feliz home Friday afternoon about 2:30 p.m to run an errand. More than an hour after picking up exams for her mother, who is an attorney and an adjunct professor at Southwestern University School of Law on Wilshire Boulevard, Burk made separate calls to her parents.

She asked them how to get cash using her credit card at an ATM, police said. Her parents told her to come home.

When she had not returned by 5 p.m., her parents became worried. They contacted Los Angeles police that night. Her body was found in the front passenger seat of her black Volvo shortly after 6 a.m. on Saturday.

Sgt. Miguel Arana of the Los Angeles Police Department said there were signs of a struggle inside the car. Burk appeared to have head injuries from striking the passenger side of the front windshield, but the car did not show signs of having been in a crash, he said.

Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz said that the cause of death appeared to be blunt-force trauma and that there was "strong evidence" that Burk was killed by 5 p.m. Friday. He declined to disclose more details.

Updated 11:30 a.m. Monday: Los Angeles police arrested Charlie Samuel, a 50-year old black man in connection with Burk's slaying. Sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition that they not be named because the investigation was ongoing, said detectives believed the motive was robbery and that Burk appeared to have been abducted from that area.

Samuel was arrested at 5:30 p.m. Friday on suspicion of possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia  on 3rd Street in downtown Los Angeles -- at least 12 hours before Lily's body was discovered nearby in her black Volvo at 5th and Alameda streets. While in custody, he was arrested again Sunday at 9 p.m. in connection with the homicide, according to sheriff's jail records. He is being held without bail.

 -- Margot Roosevelt and Ruben Vives

Read more: Girl, 17, found slain in car near downtown L.A.

Police continue search for killer of 17-year old Lily Burk

Suspect in Lily Burk's slaying has history of violent crimes, drug problems, police say

Photo: Lily Burk. Credit: Sarah Faulk