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2 Neighborhood Youths Held in Slaying of Teacher

Violence: The suspects are 16 and 17. Residents identified one from a police sketch. Authorities say they have found the gun used in the crime.

July 28, 2001|KENNETH REICH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tipped off by Compton residents who recognized the sketch of a suspect in the killing of a retired teacher, investigators have arrested two teenagers living within a mile of the victim.

Los Angeles Sheriff's Lt. Ray Peavy said one suspect, 16, had the alleged murder weapon, a gun, when he was arrested Thursday afternoon. The second suspect, 17, was arrested a few hours later.

Neither was identified because of his age, and Peavy was vague as to who turned them in.

But "the neighborhood didn't like this [killing] one bit," he said. "They fully cooperated with us.

"When the [neighbors] saw the composite, they said, 'That's him,' and they came through."

The sketch was released at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The first suspect was arrested at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

There was no word as to who would stand to receive a $10,000 reward offered by the city of Compton in the July 21 home-invasion robbery and murder of Kathryn Dawson, but a sheriff's spokesman said it would not normally be distributed until after a conviction.

Peavy said the 16-year-old had no criminal record but the 17-year-old was on probation.

He added that items from Dawson's home were found with the 16-year-old, and he said he believes the motive was robbery.

Two small bouquets were set on the iron fence outside Dawson's Slater Street home Friday. Inside the home, one of the teacher's six children elaborated on a subject that her son George Hinshaw raised Wednesday: changes in neighborhood life that allowed "just some young boys out of control" to kill her.

"We respected our parents and others' parents," said Yolanda Spooney, one of Dawson's daughters. "It's sad. Today, there's no respect for human life, and parents aren't even allowed to discipline their children without running up against maybe a complaint of child abuse.

"In our house, we were disciplined," said Spooney, an accountant. "We were taught you can't take forever, you've got to earn it yourself. Kids today expect it will all be given to them."

Down the street, neighbor Ed Jones agreed with Spooney that discipline used to be common in the neighborhood. "I'd get whupped," he said. "There were what we called spankings. Now, kids are able to do anything they want to."

But another man who grew up in the neighborhood and drove by to visit the Dawson home Friday said discipline might not be the whole answer.

Mohammed Mubarak said he raised his two children by himself, with discipline, but now his son is "in county jail for armed robbery and my daughter is on probation."

"They don't want to listen," he said. "They don't want to hear about your experiences.

"In this area, there's no real positive leadership in the family," Mubarak said. "A lot of the kids attach themselves to homeboys. They look up to the negative images they see on TV."

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