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LAPD ends search in Studio City hills for man who fit description of Valley Village murder suspect

September 17, 2010 |  6:26 pm

Los Angeles police said Friday afternoon that they had ended their search in the Fryman Canyon area for a man who fit the description of a 34-year-old parolee charged with fatally stabbing a Valley Village woman in a burglary.

For more than six hours, LAPD officers in helicopters, on horseback and in off-road vehicles combed the rugged hills and hiking trails for the man who a witness said looked like murder suspect Omar Armando Loera.

The search was concentrated in Wilacre Park and Fryman Canyon Park below Mulholland Drive. But officials were looking over a wide area between Laurel Canyon and Coldwater Canyons between Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland Drive.

Loera, who remains at large, has been charged in absentia with murder, burglary and arson as well as assault with a deadly weapon stemming from the July 24 slaying of 34-year-old Cheree Osmanhodzic.

The parolee gained early release from state prison in February after serving 23 months of a 32-month state prison sentence in connection with a 2008 armed robbery.

LAPD Lt. Alan Hamilton said that police were not able to locate the suspect Friday but that authorities would immediately respond to any reported sightings of Loera in Fryman Canyon or elsewhere. Friday's reported sighting was near Coldwater Canyon Drive and Mulholland Drive.

Hamilton urged people not to approach Loera if they see him but urged them to call 911.

Loera was identified as the suspect in the July slaying after DNA and other unspecified evidence found at the scene provided the needed break in the case.

Osmanhodzic's slaying stunned residents in Valley Village, where she had been shopping for a wedding dress with her mother and fiance, Adam Culvey, the day of the killing.

After running an errand, Culvey told police, he returned to the couple's home, put his key in the door and began to push it open. He felt resistance. Moments later, he confronted a stranger, who ran out and sprinted down the block.

Culvey said he chased the intruder then walked back to his residence to find that it was on fire. Inside, firefighters discovered Osmanhodzic, dead on the bedroom floor from multiple stab wounds.

-- Andrew Blankstein