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Murder Suspect Held in '74 Santa Ana Death

Nevada man is arrested in O.C. nurse's death, which originally had been ruled a suicide.

November 19, 2005|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

The 1974 death of a Santa Ana nurse, once ruled a suicide, is now considered a homicide, and authorities Friday began the process of returning a Nevada man to Orange County to face a charge of murder.

Louis Stanley Wiechecki, 61, a former maintenance worker at the apartment complex where the death occurred 31 years ago, was arrested this week in Henderson, Nev.

It was a direct result, officials said, of a cold-case unit started last year by the Orange County district attorney's office.

The saga is complicated.

Wiechecki was a suspect in two murder investigations that winter at the Aladdin Apartments in the 1000 block of West 17th Street. He was convicted in one, but never charged in the Jan. 24, 1974, death of Linda Cummings, 27.

She had been found dead, hanging from ropes tied to opposite sides of her room and double knotted "in a unique way behind her back," Deputy Dist. Atty. Larry Yellin said Friday.

The coroner had ruled it suicide.

Five weeks later, Wiechecki killed the acting manager at the complex, Marion Morgan, 78, and tied her body in a similar manner before wrapping it in a bedspread and dumping it an empty lot, Yellin said.

Wiechecki was tried on a murder charge, but the jury convicted him of voluntary manslaughter.

He served four years in prison.

After his release, Wiechecki moved to Northern California and worked as a computer technician before retiring in Nevada under a new identity, officials said.

Yellin said Wiechecki had always been the primary suspect in Cummings' death, but there was not enough evidence to make an arrest.

Investigators reopened the case last year using the TracKRS unit, a task force that seeks to catch sexual offenders using modern technology.

Yellin obtained an arrest warrant in the case this week based on new evidence, including a pathologist's reexamination of strangulation marks.

Susan Kang Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office, said that a hearing is scheduled next week in Nevada's Clark County Superior Court to determine when Wiechecki will be returned to California to face a murder charge.

He could face life in prison.

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