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Alleged Killer's Dark Side Emerges in Records

Violence: Man believed to have shot wife, daughter and himself was on probation for molesting the girl, court documents show.

January 09, 2002|SCOTT GOLD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CORONA — The patriarch of a Corona family, who police say shot his wife and their 16-year-old daughter before killing himself early this week, was on probation for committing lewd acts on the girl, court records show.

Corona police said Tuesday that they believe Hamdy Elrakabawy, 51, killed his 44-year-old wife, LAPD Officer Nancy Walden, and his daughter, Camellia Elrakabawy, about dawn Monday and then turned the gun on himself.

Investigators said the couple had a history of domestic disputes. "Something definitely was wrong," said Corona Police Lt. Roy Vanderkallen.

Walden and Camellia each were shot multiple times, police said, while Elrakabawy was shot once in the head. A 9-millimeter Beretta handgun was found on the floor next to him.

On the outside, the family's life was a picture of suburban bliss.

The three lived in a well-groomed Corona neighborhood. Their Spanish-tiled, $260,000 home had a yellow Porsche convertible parked in front. Walden and her husband recently added a pool in the backyard, and they had handed out spare keys in the neighborhood in case anyone wanted to let themselves in to take a dip.

Behind the veneer, however, were darker lives.

Monday's shootings occurred two years after Elrakabawy pleaded guilty to three charges of lewd conduct with Camellia. The family apparently had concealed from most friends and neighbors that Elrakabawy was still on probation.

Camellia Elrakabawy had recently passed the high school equivalency exam and was preparing to leave for college, at least a year before most of her peers.

"She wanted to get out of that house," said Sherine Tate, a neighbor. Camellia often baby-sat Tate's children, and once told Tate that her father had been fondling her, Tate said.

The family moved six years ago into the home on Donatello Drive, in a south Corona tract near the mountains in Riverside County. They were among the first residents of the newly built neighborhood.

Camellia was then a quiet and bookish 10-year-old, friends and neighbors say, and they watched with fondness as she grew up. Neighbors placed friendly wagers on whether Camellia would become a diplomat or a model.

"She was becoming so beautiful," said Paula Rogers, who moved to the neighborhood five years ago and hired Camellia regularly to baby-sit. "She'd been a gangly, awkward kid, a geek, and she was just blossoming.

About 4:30 a.m. Monday, neighbors heard Elrakabawy and Walden shouting in the frontyard, police said. About 6 a.m., two neighborhood children noticed that the front door of the home was ajar, and that the family's three dogs had escaped.

The children poked their heads in the door to alert the family and saw Elrakabawy lying at the foot of the stairs. Frightened, the children ran off to school without telling anyone.

Several hours later, Los Angeles Police Department officials contacted Walden's relatives when she did not show up for work. The relatives went to the home and found the three bodies.

Camellia had been shot several times while seated at her computer. Walden had been shot several times on the stairs. Elrakabawy had been shot once in the head, police said.

Autopsies are planned.

According to court records, Elrakabawy was arrested in December 1999 and charged with two counts of performing a lewd act on a child and three counts of lewd conduct.

The lewd acts took place between June and November 1999, the records show.

After pleading guilty to the three counts of lewd conduct, he was sentenced to five years' probation, including 100 days in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department work program--which he was unable to complete because he had a heart attack in the fall of 2000, records indicate.

Among other provisions, Elrakabawy was ordered not to have any more "negative contact" with his daughter. He was told not to spend unsupervised time with any children, except his daughter. The prosecutor and defense attorney in the case did not return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Elrakabawy, an aerospace engineer who was born in Egypt, had told friends and neighbors that he had been harassed at his Orange County office since Sept. 11 because of his Middle Eastern heritage and his thick accent.

"He may have been on edge," said Susan Hale, a neighbor.

In Los Angeles, Walden was remembered as a dedicated police officer and a role model for young women.

Walden had served in the Army for 20 years, and apparently met Elrakabawy overseas, friends said. She joined the LAPD six years ago and worked in the Harbor and Southeast divisions before joining the bus transit division, where she patrolled public transit facilities such as bus stops.

Walden was a skilled helicopter pilot in the National Guard and was looking forward to leaving for Germany next week on a training mission, said LAPD Officer Jack Richter, one of her former partners.

Last April, Richter was scheduled to run a 6-mile leg of an annual Baker-to-Las Vegas footrace that draws law enforcement teams from across the country. When he hurt his knee, he turned to Walden.

"She said: 'Run in the desert? At 4 o'clock in the morning? Sure, I'll do it,' " Richter said. "That was the kind of person she was. She was first-class."

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