A man charged with abducting and killing three San Gabriel Valley residents has confessed to a total of four murders, saying he committed the crimes to "get back at society," court papers obtained Wednesday show.
John Lewis, one of four people charged in a string of abductions, slayings and armed robberies, told investigators that he believed society had wronged him, and he suggested that once he had committed murder the first time, there was little reason not to do it again, the documents indicate.
Lewis, his pregnant girlfriend, Eileen Huber, his sister, Robin Machuca, and Vincent Hubbard were charged this week in the robberies and murders of three San Gabriel Valley residents. Two of the bodies were dumped alongside freeways and one in a trash bin.
On Wednesday, Lewis and Huber were tied to a fourth slaying, the shotgun death of a Norwalk man identified as Jose Avina, 22, who was intercepted and killed in Monrovia as he drove to a friend's house July 5. Authorities said they expected to file the additional charges against Lewis, Huber and at least two unnamed accomplices later this week.
In police reports submitted to the Citrus Municipal Court in West Covina, Lewis is quoted by investigators as saying the Avina killing propelled him on a path of murder.
In the documents, Huber and Lewis--the two accused murderers who apparently did the most talking--paint in detail a chilling picture of how the group stalked and killed their victims:
Huber, 20, Lewis, 21, and two companions piled into two cars and went cruising July 5 in search of money. They spotted Avina, driving a stereo-equipped, bright red truck, and followed him to a Monrovia intersection.
One car rear-ended Avina's truck, and the other parked in front. Huber told investigators that Lewis walked to the truck and ordered Avina to get out. Avina tried to escape, so Lewis fired a shotgun blast into Avina's head. Lewis pulled Avina out of the truck, climbed in and drove away, police said.
The truck, its stereo missing, was found abandoned six hours later.
The next victim was Willie Newton Sams, 40, of West Covina. Lewis and Hubbard waited at a gasoline station on Aug. 18 until they saw Sams drive up to an automatic teller machine. They forced him to withdraw money there and at a second bank, then ordered him to drive to a nearby middle school.
There, Lewis and Hubbard forced Sams to climb into a trash dumpster, and Hubbard shot him, according to Lewis' account.
Next, Lewis told investigators, he, Hubbard and Machuca went to the Puente Hills shopping mall on Aug. 24, planning to rob a jewelry store. Huber stayed home with Machuca's 5-year-old daughter.
The three, sitting in the mall's parking lot, spotted Elizabeth Nisbet, 49, of Diamond Bar. She was inside her vehicle, waiting for her husband. "Let's rob that lady," Hubbard told Lewis, according to Lewis' account. "It's easier than robbing a store."
Lewis and Hubbard argued briefly over whether to go after Nisbet, then pulled out guns and forced their way into her car. They bound her hands with duct tape, made her lie on a back seat and covered her with a blanket.
Nisbet's assailants then used her automatic teller card at a West Covina bank.
Lewis told investigators he wanted to let Nisbet go, but that Hubbard insisted on killing her because she could identify them. Huber's account is different, according to the police reports: She said it was Lewis who insisted on killing Nisbet.
Lewis said he first fired a shot above Nisbet's head, in what he said was an attempt to fake her death. But she continued to scream, so he shot into the blanket.
Later, when investigators arrested the four, they found Huber wearing Nisbet's 17-diamond wedding band. Lewis had taken it from the victim and given it to his girlfriend as an engagement ring.
Three days after Nisbet's murder, Lewis, Huber and Machuca returned to the Puente Hills mall, where they spotted Shirley Denogean, 56, of Claremont, driving into the parking lot. She went inside the mall to shop; Machuca bought Chinese food, and they sat eating it in their car until Denogean returned.
When Denogean reached her car, her assailants overpowered her. They promised not to kill her if she would turn over her bank card code number. She obliged them, and they withdrew money from her bank and began driving.
Lewis told investigators that Denogean began to accuse him of intending to kill her anyway.
"Go ahead and kill me now," he quoted her as saying. She tried to hit Lewis and grab his gun.
Lewis said he grew increasingly angry. The group stopped the car, pushed Denogean onto the side of the Pomona Freeway and made her walk down an embankment. Lewis ordered her to lie on the ground, but she refused. He shot her in the midsection and turned away to leave. But she continued to cry and moan, so he returned and shot her several more times.
Lewis, Huber, Hubbard and Machuca were arrested at their West Covina apartment Friday.
Neighbors interviewed by police at the apartment building said Lewis and Hubbard boasted of committing eight murders. Recently, the four became flush with money, new clothes and plans to "take over" the complex, the neighbors said. Once in the West Covina jail, where the four were being held in separate cells without bail, Lewis asked for paper so that he could write to Huber.
"The time has come for us to owe (sic) up to things," he wrote, according to investigators. "I have to suffer the consequences for the (stuff) I have done."