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Ventura County

Stabbed Oxnard Man Dies

Crime: Residents of a senior complex heard yelling and screeching tires. Police say killing may be drug-related.

November 08, 2001|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT and TIMOTHY HUGHES | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A 38-year-old Oxnard man died Wednesday morning after being stabbed in the chest outside a downtown senior citizens apartment complex.

Officers found Ralph McLaughlin lying on the sidewalk in the 400 block of South C Street in Oxnard at 5:30 a.m.

McLaughlin was taken to St. John's Regional Medical Center, where he died a few minutes later from a single stab wound, said David Keith, an Oxnard police spokesman.

A motive has not been established, but detectives believe the crime may be drug-related. McLaughlin has a lengthy history of drug use and was found without a wallet.

Nearby Resident Called 911

McLaughlin, who was unemployed and lived on and off with various friends and family members, was spotted by a resident at the Playa Vista housing complex who called 911 after seeing him slumped on an outdoor wheelchair ramp.

Later Wednesday morning, two residents of the complex, who asked not to be identified, said they heard yelling and screeching tires before police arrived.

When the couple looked out, they saw McLaughlin staggering across the street toward the complex, moaning and holding his hand to his chest before collapsing.

"I just heard a lot of screaming," said the woman. "Usually, the worst thing that happens here is the smoke alarm goes off. And now this. It's awful."

Some residents said they weren't surprised that such violence had reached their neighborhood near downtown Plaza Park. Nighttime drug dealing is prevalent on street corners in the area, they said.

"It makes me nervous," said Elouise Peterson, 62. "It's scary that it could happen, especially right here. But no place is safe any more."

Victim Had Arrest Record

Authorities released few details about McLaughlin, but court records show that he was in and out of Ventura County Jail several times since 1992, primarily for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

He also spent time in jail for petty theft, giving false information to a police officer, possessing drug paraphernalia and unlawfully obtaining public aid money.

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