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Son of Wealthy Arcadia Developer Kills Burglar

September 20, 1986|GEORGE RAMOS | Times Staff Writer

The 14-year-old son of wealthy Arcadia developer Charles Bluth shot and killed one of two burglars who broke into the family's multimillion-dollar hilltop mansion in what police said Friday was a "completely justified" shooting.

The boy, who was not named by police because he is a juvenile, confronted the intruders at 8:45 p.m. Thursday in the second-floor hallway of the home on Whispering Pines Summit and fired at least one round from a rifle at them, said Arcadia Police Capt. Richard Honaker.

One intruder, identified by police as Kevin Lee Kennedy, 29, of North Hollywood, was hit and died at the scene. The other fled from the 24-room mansion--known as Peacock Manor--and was the subject of a police search late Friday.

Burglar Alarms Sounded

Investigators said they did not know how the suspects, who were apparently armed, entered the fenced estate grounds, but burglar alarms sounded in the home when the pair forced their way inside. The Arcadia police station was notified of the break-in by a private security company that received a silent alarm from the mansion.

When the pair reached the second floor, they were confronted by the boy, who grabbed a rifle from a nearby "secure location" and fired at them, Honaker said.

Honaker said the boy was not held or cited because Arcadia police and Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives have determined that the shooting was "completely justified." Honaker said the conclusion was based on physical evidence. He declined to be more specific.

The boy's mother, Cleo, and a 12-year-old sister were home at the time, but they were not hurt during the incident. "They're pretty shook up," Honaker said.

The boy's father, Charles Bluth, 46, was away on business.

Neighbors described the Bluth family as a closely knit clan that is "down to earth." "That's rare considering all the money they have," one neighbor said.

Honaker, who has met Bluth and his family several times, said they kept guns in the home.

"If I know him," the captain said, "he probably did the same thing to his son that I did to mine . . . teach him everything there is to know about guns. Not to kill burglars, but to have a healthy respect for weapons."

Owns Santa Anita Inn

The mansion is the heart of the exclusive Whispering Pines community, made up of 22 Tudor-style homes, which Bluth developed in the foothills overlooking Arcadia. The homes range in price from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

Bluth, who parlayed the idea of coin-operated photocopying machines into a lucrative business of building custom-designed homes, owns the Santa Anita Inn in Arcadia and the Cal Neva Lodge in Nevada, which was once owned by Frank Sinatra.

Los Angeles authorities said that the dead man, Kennedy, was a professional thief whom they tried to arrest earlier this week. During that arrest attempt at a North Hollywood house, police said a detective accidentally shot and killed another suspected burglar, William Vachwick, 25. But Kennedy, who was being sought in more than two dozen thefts, eluded officers. Inside the house, police said they found jewelry and cash believed to have been taken in 25 residential burglaries.

Arcadia police Friday were pressing the search for the second intruder.

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