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LAPD searches for suspect in 'death warrant' homeless stabbings

July 20, 2012 |  4:02 pm

The Los Angeles Police Department on Friday stepped up its efforts to find the person who stabbed three transients while they slept, leaving behind rambling "death warrants." 

Detectives said the attacks, none fatal, all occurred this month and involved middle-aged homeless people who were stabbed in the back.

Police released a photo of a man they described as a person of interest in the case. Based on the "death warrant" notes, officials Thursday called him David Ben Keyes, who they said has been missing for weeks from the Santa Barbara area. On Friday, they said his real name was Courtney Anthony Robinson.

LAPD Capt. Billy Hayes publicly urged homeless people to find nighttime shelter or at least stay in groups until a suspect is caught.

"With numbers, there is safety," Hayes said at a news conference.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith added: "Get somewhere where you can be protected. Please do what you can to get into a shelter and be safe."

The first attack was reported July 3 when a 56-year-old man was found bleeding with a large "hunting type" knife protruding from his back near 3rd and Main streets in downtown Los Angeles, according to law enforcement sources. The man crawled 100 yards looking for help while the weapon was lodged between his shoulder blades, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

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

On Thursday, a 54-year-old woman was stabbed as she slept near La Brea and De Longpre avenues, blocks from Hollywood High School, authorities said. Police said they recovered a black kitchen knife and another "warrant."

Hayes said that police have no motive for the attacks but that there is evidence the same person is responsible for all three.

The notes were typewritten, signed and contained rambling commentaries, officials said.

"It appears there is a common thread, but we cannot get into specifics," Hayes said.


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-- Andrew Blankstein