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Suspect Reportedly Confesses to Palmdale Killing

August 13, 1997|GREG SANDOVAL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PALMDALE — A homeless man reportedly confessed Tuesday to murdering a man whose body was unearthed by authorities from a shallow, backyard grave the day before, according to Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies.

Henry Juarez Guzman, 40, had been arrested on suspicion of murder and was in custody when he confessed to the killing, said Homicide Det. Tom Harris. Guzman told deputies that he had gotten into an argument with the victim, whose identity has not been determined, and struck him with a blunt instrument, Harris said.

The slaying apparently took place about a month ago, Harris said, when the two men were staying in an abandoned house in Palmdale.

"He dragged the body to the backyard, where he buried it in a garden area," Harris said. "He told us he basically got mad and lost it."

The grave was discovered Sunday by deputies acting on an anonymous tip. When they arrived at the backyard on the 38100 block of 15th Street East, they spotted two feet sticking out of the ground.

On Monday, investigators spent several hours exhuming the body--which authorities say appears to be that of a Latino in his mid-20s--and examining the dirt dug up in the process for evidence.

Guzman was arrested Monday night. Harris would not say what led deputies to suspect him or where he was arrested.

The two men had met about two weeks prior to the killing, Guzman reportedly told detectives. Guzman invited the man to the abandoned home where he had already been living for a month, Harris said.

Neighbors said the house had long been a refuge for vagrants and runaway teenagers.

Guzman told authorities he did not know the victim's name, Harris said. Fingerprints have been taken from the body in hopes they will help determine his identity.

Guzman is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

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