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'Death warrant' stabbing suspect may be using public transit

July 19, 2012 |  4:22 pm

Approximate location of incidents shown in red.

The man suspected of stabbing at least three homeless people and leaving behind signed "death warrants" at the crime scenes is believed to be using public transportation to move around the Los Angeles area, authorities said.

Police are searching for a man they identified as David Ben Keyes, who has been missing for weeks from the Santa Barbara area. Los Angeles police have examined a website that Keyes has been posting photos to, which include pictures of him holding a rifle, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

On various websites, Keyes describes himself as "a musician, and writer of original psalms, proverbs, love letters, poems and riddles for the Roman Catholic Church and Jewish Synogagues."

One song is titled "Only the Strong Will Survive."

Police said that in each of the cases -- two in Los Angeles and one in Santa Monica -- the victims were homeless people who were stabbed as they slept. Typed and signed "death warrants" were left at the scene,  according to several law enforcement sources.

The victims, two men and a woman in their 50s, survived the attacks.

The first incident was reported July 4 when a 56-year-old homeless man was found bleeding with a large "hunting-type" knife protruding from his back near the intersection of 3rd and Main streets in Los Angeles, according to the sources. The man crawled 100 yards looking for help while the weapon was lodged between his shoulder blades.

On Tuesday, another homeless man was stabbed in a similar manner as he slept on a Santa Monica bus bench near the Third Street Promenade. Santa Monica police Sgt. Richard Lewis confirmed that a similar note was found by detectives but did not give details.

On Thursday, a 54-year-old homeless woman was stabbed in the back as she slept near the intersection of La Brea and De Longpre avenues, blocks away from Hollywood High School. Police recovered a black kitchen knife and another "warrant," also signed by the suspect.

The case is now being investigated by the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division.


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-- Andrew Blankstein

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Image: Approximate location of incidents shown in red. Credit: Google Maps