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Police search Coldwater Canyon for suspect in Valley Village slaying [Updated]

September 17, 2010 |  3:15 pm

Los Angeles police combed the Coldwater Canyon area Friday after residents reported seeing a man fitting the description of a 34-year-old parolee charged with fatally stabbing a Valley Village woman in a burglary.

Police received reports Friday morning that Omar Armando Loera was seen near Mulholland Drive and Coldwater Canyon Drive, and they immediately began searching for him.

[Updated at 3:25 p.m.: Police are focused on the area near Simon Park, from Coldwater Canyon to Laurel Canyon and Ventura Boulevard to Mulholland Drive. People are encouraged to stay indoors, with their doors locked.]

Although Loera remains at large, he already has been charged with murder, burglary, arson and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the July 24 slaying of Cheree Osmanhodzic, 34.

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

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Loera had been subjected to past "immigration enforcement actions." But after an "exhaustive review" before his release from an Imperial Valley prison, the agency determined he was a U.S. citizen, said Virginia Kice, a customs agency spokeswoman ICE.

LAPD officials identified Loera as the suspect in Osmanhodzic's slaying after DNA and other unspecified evidence found at the scene provided a break in the case.

Lt. Alan Hamilton said the killing appeared to be a random act, and it was unclear if Loera was still in Southern California or had fled to another jurisdiction or country.

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