Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Body found in backyard of Lennox 'drug house' identified as missing homeowner

February 17, 2011 |  3:45 pm

The body found buried in the backyard of a Lennox “drug house” was identified Thursday as that of the homeowner, who was reported missing in December, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said.

James Daniel Stein, 53, was identified two days after his body, wrapped in cloth and plastic, was unearthed from the yard. His autopsy was pending Thursday, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said.

Stein's wife, Gabriela Stein, who was last seen in January, remained missing.

Detectives first visited the house in the 4800 block of 112th Street at Inglewood Avenue late Monday when a resident, Jenny Salazar, 22, told them at least one body was buried there.

Marcos Lomeli, 26, identified as the woman’s ex-boyfriend, was arrested Wednesday night for false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. He and Salazar were occasional renters at the Lennox house, deputies said.

Salazar was arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and was being held on $100,000 bail.

The Lennox house caught fire Wednesday night hours after Lomeli was arrested.

Arson investigators on Thursday were trying to determine what caused the fire. Authorities have said the house was used for drug dealing.

Salazar and Lomeli visited the home Jan. 12 to ask another resident to borrow a truck, an official said. Lomeli allegedly said he needed to move a couple of bodies. When the truck owner refused, the couple fired a gun in the house, beat him and tied him up, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Guillermina Saldana.

The man, whose name was not released, escaped and contacted authorities. On Monday afternoon, deputies were called back to the home by a person saying that Salazar had returned.

Deputies said that when they arrived, Salazar was standing near a pickup truck that has been reported stolen in a carjacking Sunday night and that the woman was in possession of property taken in the carjacking.


Authorities investigate fire at Lennox house where body was buried

-- Nate Jackson