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Man kills in-laws, then himself outside Valencia home

August 5, 2011 | 11:30 pm

Bayview court

Investigators say a 64-year-old man apparently picked up his in-laws from their home in Los Angeles on Friday, drove them to his house in Valencia and fatally shot them as they sat in his car.

His wife, who was inside the home when she heard three shots, ran out and discovered the bodies of her 90-year-old mother in the front seat and her 95-year-old father in the back seat. Her husband was still in the driver's seat.

Authorities did not release the names of the people involved, but the Santa Clarita Valley Signal has identified the 64-year-old as Martin Strassner and his wife as Susan Strassner.

Deputies responded to the emergency call about 3:40 p.m. in the 23800 block of Bayview Court in the community of Bridgeport, a quaint and upscale neighborhood.

Authorities said the murder-suicide appeared to have been planned in advance by the man. He was reportedly depressed, but no motive has been determined yet.

"It looks like he planned it and thought about it," said sheriff's Homicide Lt. John Corina. "He had a note, he had a gun."

Inside the man's four-door car, investigators found a handgun on the man's lap and a suicide note. Detectives did not know if the note was signed.

As detectives continued their investigation, onlookers began to gather behind the yellow police tape of Bayview Court, a cul-de-sac, while children rode bicycles and skateboards. Neighborhood residents said no crime of any sort had ever occurred before in the tight-knit community. All expressed shock.

"I'm at a loss for words," said Olga Echenique, an eight-year resident. "I can't believe it has happened in our neighborhood. Our kids play outside. Our neighbors are sweet; we give each other our house keys.

"Nothing like this has ever happened in the six years I've lived here," Francisco Gamero said. "This is a quiet neighborhood."


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-- Ann M. Simmons reporting from Valencia and Ruben Vives and Robert F. Faturechi reporting from Los Angeles

Photo: Residents gather outside the perimeter line at the scene of a murder-suicide in Valencia. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times