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Suspect in Lily Burk slaying had gained pass out of rehab center hours before alleged abduction

July 27, 2009 |  7:33 pm

A man arrested on suspicion of killing Lily Burk had a received a pass to temporarily leave a Los Angeles drug rehabilitation facility just hours before he allegedly abducted the 17-year-old student, officials told The Times.

Seth Unger, a Department of Corrections spokesman, said that Charlie Samuel, a 50-year-old transient, had been staying at a residential treatment facility since June. The stay was part of his parole after serving prison time for petty theft.

Unger said Samuel was supposed to return to the facility Friday evening but never returned. Officials learned later that he had been arrested by Los Angeles Police.

Releases from drug rehab centers are generally allowed, and such facilities are not designed to incarcerate those seeking treatment.

Police said earlier today that fingerprints recovered from inside the car in which Burk was found slain matched those of a transient.

They said Samuel, 50, encountered the girl near the Southwestern University School of Law on Wilshire Boulevard. Burk had gone to the campus at the old Bullock's Wilshire building Friday to collect some papers for her mother, an attorney who worked there.

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 Burk's body was discovered nearby in her black Volvo at 5th and South Alameda streets. Law enforcement sources said Samuel has a history of violent crime and drug abuse.

"This case strikes close to home for all of us with children," said Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz. "This is really a parent's worst nightmare."

Police said Burk left her Los Feliz home about 2:30 p.m. Friday to go to the law school. At a news conference, Diaz offered a chronology of what followed:

3 p.m Friday: Samuel allegedly approached Burk at her car, which was parked near the law school on Wilshire Place, north of 7th Street. Samuel abducted Burk.

3:35 p.m.: Samuel attempted to withdraw money from at least one location in downtown L.A. using Burk's credit card. But the credit car was not set up to be used at an ATM.

3:35 to 4 p.m.: Burk called both her mother and father, asking how to withdraw money using her credit card. She did not say she was in distress, police said.

4:52 p.m.: Samuel exited the driver's-side door of Burk's Volvo at 458 S. Alameda St. in downtown L.A.

5:25 p.m.: LAPD officers saw Samuel on 3rd Street drinking beer and in possession of a crack pipe. He was arrested.

Friday evening: Burk's parents reported her missing. A missing persons report was filed and detectives began searching for her.

6:15 a.m. Saturday: Burk's body was found by local workers inside her car at 458 S. Alameda St. They called 911, and police arrived.

A law enforcement source said Samuel had a previous history of assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and kidnapping.

According to law enforcement records, Samuel also had been arrested April 23 on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood on a parole violation.

-- Richard Winton