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Van Nuys man arrested in two killings

An acquaintance of the suspect in the deaths of two members of an Anaheim Hills family is in custody in Arizona as a `person of interest.'

June 20, 2007|Ashley Powers | Times Staff Writer

Authorities have arrested an acquaintance of a Van Nuys man charged last week in the Orange County slayings of his ex-girlfriend's father and sister and severe beating of her mother.

Vitaliy Krasnoperov, 21, of West Hollywood was taken into custody Thursday by police in Chandler, Ariz., and booked at the Maricopa County Jail, according to authorities.

He is expected to be extradited to Orange County by week's end.

Krasnoperov was arrested on a fugitive warrant, according to Lynnae Costanza, a records specialist for the Chandler Police Department. Without elaborating, Anaheim police described him as a "person of interest" in connection with last month's crimes.

Krasnoperov is a friend of Iftekhar Murtaza, who is being held at Orange County Jail on two counts of murder, one of attempted murder and special circumstances allegations of murder during a kidnapping and multiple murders.

Murtaza, 22, was arrested last month at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, carrying a one-way ticket to Bangladesh.

According to his arrest warrant, he was angry at the devoutly Hindu parents and sister of his former girlfriend, Shayona Dhanak, after they had pushed her to end their three-year relationship because they did not want her dating a Muslim.

Dhanak's mother, Leela, was found May 21 in a neighbor's yard, bludgeoned and unconscious. A fire had been set at the family home in Anaheim Hills. The bodies of her husband, Jayprakash, and daughter Karishma were later found by authorities responding to a brush fire near UC Irvine.

The victims had been strangled, bludgeoned, burned and stabbed, according to court records.

Shayona Dhanak, 18, a UC Irvine student, was on campus at the time of the attacks and was unharmed.

She and her mother -- who remains hospitalized and can't yet be interviewed by investigators -- are under police protection.

Jeremy Phillips, an attorney who represented Murtaza at his Arizona hearings, said last week that his client was innocent of any crime.

He said that Murtaza has been inaccurately portrayed as a spurned and obsessed boyfriend who may have been bent on revenge against the family.

ashley.powers@latimes.com

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Times staff writer Christine Hanley contributed to this report.

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