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California and the West

2 Arrested in Teen's Slaying, Girlfriend's Rape

March 09, 1998|DAVAN MAHARAJ and DEBORAH SCHOCH | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

YORBA LINDA — A Norwalk man and woman were arrested in Las Vegas during the weekend and booked for the kidnapping and slaying of a 17-year-old Yorba Linda youth and the rape and shooting of his girlfriend, officials said.

The suspects, identified as Michael Martinez, 21, and Florence Noriega, 28, were arrested in a hotel room in downtown Las Vegas about 11 p.m. Saturday, authorities said.

Investigators said they were close to arresting a third suspect in the case. The identity of that suspect--a man--was being withheld.

"Obviously, these arrests are a major breakthrough," said Los Angeles sheriff's Lt. Don Bear. "We have two in custody, and we've identified the third. You can't get much better than that."

The body of Chad MacDonald Jr., 17, was found dumped in a South Los Angeles alley. An autopsy indicated that he had been strangled.

Attackers held MacDonald and his girlfriend captive for three days before killing him and taking the 16-year-old girlfriend to the Angeles National Forest, investigators said. There, she was raped, shot in the jaw and left for dead, she told authorities.

Bear said a team of Los Angeles sheriff's deputies flew to Las Vegas Saturday night after learning that Martinez and Noriega were staying in a hotel there. The arrest was made without incident by FBI agents and Las Vegas police.

Bear declined to say what evidence connected the suspects to the slaying and rape or to give any details about the suspects.

Bear said he did not know the relationship between Martinez and Noriega or how the two came into contact with MacDonald and his girlfriend.

Martinez and Noriega were booked for investigation of murder at the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas and were being held without bail, Bear said.

California authorities will try to extradite the two suspects, but it wasn't known when they might arrive in Los Angeles County.

A spokesman for MacDonald's family said Sunday night that he does not know if MacDonald knew the two people arrested.

"We're very grateful that these killers are off the street," said the family spokesman, Lloyd Charton.

Investigators late last week were focusing on a Norwalk house where authorities said the teenagers were held before MacDonald's killing. The home was a suspected site of drug activity and a hangout for gang members, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials.

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