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Snakes Delay Police Inquiry Into 2 Slayings

January 28, 1988|MICHAEL CONNELLY | Times Staff Writer

Detectives investigating the slayings of a man and woman in a Canoga Park apartment had to have two pythons, one of them 13 feet long, removed before completing their crime-scene work, Los Angeles police said Wednesday.

Police said the killings may have been drug related.

The snakes belonged to Robert Ray Burley, 26, whose body was found with the body of an unidentified woman in the apartment in the 7500 block of Kentland Avenue. The victims had been beaten to death, and their bodies were badly decomposed, police said.

They were found at 5 p.m. Tuesday by Burley's brother, who called police.

A 5-foot snake was found in the kitchen and the larger snake in a bathroom, where there was also a dead cat, officials said.

A city animal control officer was called to the home to remove the snakes so that detectives could complete a search of the rooms for evidence. The snakes were in the custody of the Animal Regulation Department.

Lt. William Gaida said no suspects have been arrested, but detectives were following several leads. He said neighbors had called police on previous occasions to report the possibility of drug activity at the apartment. In the last eight months, he said, police also responded to a report of gunfire at the apartment and once a motorcycle chase ended there.

In a June incident, police said, Burley had been riding a motorcycle and led officers on a chase when they attempted to stop him for a traffic violation. Burley drove the motorcycle into the apartment on Kentland and was arrested for evading an officer. The disposition of the case could not be determined Wednesday.

The bodies were found when Burley's brother went to the apartment because relatives had not seen Robert Burley for at least 10 days, police said.

Police would not speculate on why the snakes were in the apartment.

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