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Woman, 4-year-old son found dead in Highland Park

Los Angeles police say a large kitchen knife may have been used in the apparent murder-suicide. 'It was really brutal,' one officer says.

July 19, 2009|Ari B. Bloomekatz

A woman apparently killed her 4-year-son and herself Saturday morning in a Highland Park home, police said.

The Los Angeles Police Department declined to say how each died, citing the preliminary nature of the investigation, but Capt. Bill Murphy said investigators found a large kitchen knife that they believe was used.

"It was really brutal," Murphy said. "I've been at the scene of hundreds of homicides, and this was easily one of the worst."

He said police psychologists were working with officers and others who came upon the crime scene.

Neither the boy nor his mother, 43, were publicly identified Saturday.

Murphy said the child's grandmother was cooperating with police. He declined to say whether she was in the house when the crime occurred.

Investigators were planning to contact the county Department of Children and Family Services to determine whether the department had had any involvement with the family.

The killings occurred about 9 a.m. in the 300 block of Vista Place, across the street from Garvanza Park, police said. Firefighters on the scene alerted police.

Neighbor Henry Lemus, 26, a restaurant server's assistant, said he was shocked when he heard the news.

Although he did not know the family, he said, he was aware that a small child had lived in the house.

"It's sad because sometimes we hear that little kid crying," he said.

Lemus, a father of three, said that if he had realized the family was troubled, he would have intervened.

"I wish I could have done something about it," he said. "I would have gone in and taken that kid away. But it's too late now."

Lemus and several other neighbors said they believe that an older woman also lived in the house, possibly with two grown daughters. He and other neighbors did not know the family's name.

Neighbors stood in their driveways as police cordoned off surrounding streets and strung up yellow crime scene tape.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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