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Probe of La Crescenta Slayings Deepens

Crime: Police say complex investigation of boys' deaths is changing, and drop murder case against one suspect.

July 28, 2000|JEFFREY GETTLEMAN and SOLOMON MOORE | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Glendale police Thursday painted a picture of an increasingly complex and wide-ranging investigation into the deaths of the two boys bludgeoned in a schoolyard, and they changed the allegations against one suspect from murder to burglary.

Police said Adam Walker, 19, who had originally been arrested on suspicion of murder in the case, was being held on an unrelated charge of attempted residential burglary in Burbank.

Glendale Police Capt. Mike Post said he could not explain, without compromising the investigation, why the murder allegations against Walker were dropped. Before taking Walker into custody Tuesday, police arrested Michael H. Demirdjian, a 15-year-old from La Crescenta, who remains in jail on murder and robbery charges.

"Information has been developed that keeps changing the focus of this investigation," Post said. "The complexity of this case, the things leading up to this and all the players will amaze you, when we can release all the information."

Post said that could be as much as a month from now. He heads a team of 20 investigators who have spent the last five days scouring the area for clues. Some detectives have worked 48 hours straight, interviewing student after student, and returning repeatedly to Valley View Elementary School in La Crescenta, where Blaine Talmo Jr., 14, and Chris McCulloch, 13, were found dead Sunday evening.

On Thursday afternoon, Blaine's parents, Alana and Blaine Talmo Sr., and Chris' mother, Aileen Bristow, appeared together at the school. Tears in their eyes, they viewed the displays of flowers, rows of candles and other memorials to the boys arranged on the school fence and sidewalk.

Hugging each other, the parents slowly walked away from the memorial as a friend asked reporters to let them grieve in private.

"The one thing they want everyone to know is that they are united in their grief," said the friend, Bryan Welker.

Acquaintances say the two boys were skateboarders who had recently gotten involved with a tougher group of youths and had begun to use and deal drugs.

The crime "could have involved drugs, it could have involved robbery," Glendale police spokesman Chahe Keuroghelian said. "This investigation is becoming more and more challenging each day, and it's been difficult for our investigators to pinpoint a concrete motive."

It's not clear how police were led to Walker, a recent graduate of Crescenta Valley High School who lives in the area.

Unexpected Link to Schoolyard Slaying

Burbank Police Sgt. Kelly Frank said Walker was among a group of six or seven young men Burbank police officers stopped Tuesday on Glenoaks Boulevard on suspicion of stealing bikes and stereos from homes.

When Walker was questioned about the burglaries, the names of the two boys killed kept coming up, Frank said, without elaborating.

"Obviously this guy Walker knew more about what happened at the school than he was telling us," Frank said.

Burbank detectives called their counterparts in Glendale, and after interrogating Walker, Glendale detectives took him into custody, Frank said.

A slightly different account was offered by Burbank Police Sgt. Doyle Holm, who said Walker was first arrested by Glendale police and transferred to Burbank later.

Glendale investigators were not immediately available to comment on the discrepancy.

Glendale police had released a statement Wednesday morning naming Walker as a second suspect in the murder.

But by Wednesday afternoon, Glendale detectives had concluded that they did not have enough evidence to hold Walker on murder charges and sent him back to jail in Burbank on burglary charges, Frank said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Walker, who used to be a desk attendant at the Verdugo Hills YMCA, was being held on $30,000 bail on one count of attempted burglary.

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