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Beating suspect investigated for possible ties to unsolved cases

Hawthorne police will use DNA evidence to determine if a man arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 70-year-old woman may have committed similar violent crimes.

September 21, 2009|Ari B. Bloomekatz

Hawthorne police say a man arrested on suspicion of raping and beating an elderly woman last week may be responsible for other similar crimes.

Gary Labon, 48, was arrested Friday after officers responded to a neighbor's call about "a female screaming outside" and found him on top of a 70-year-old woman in the 12900 block of Jefferson Avenue, authorities said.

The woman was collecting recyclables about 3 a.m. when the suspect allegedly attacked her, said Lt. Michael Ishii.

The victim, who was found unconscious, was sexually assaulted and badly beaten. "We were not able to identify her. . . . She was beaten so severely we couldn't recognize her face," Ishii said. The woman was later identified by her son, who had reported her missing.

When police confronted the suspect, he tried to run away and struggled with officers, who eventually used a Taser to subdue him, Ishii said. Bail was set at $1 million.

Meanwhile, investigators are looking at other unsolved cases with a similar profile, and contacting other law enforcement agencies to see if they have similar unsolved crimes.

"We have investigators looking into the possibility that he may be involved in other similar-type crimes," Ishii said. "The M.O. is pretty significant, and just the violent nature of this case -- attacking an elderly lady and beating her to near death and sexually assaulting her -- we believe this isn't something you can do just for the first time."

Investigators are exploring reports that Labon was convicted of sexual assault in Pennsylvania and at least one other sexual assault charge in Southern California, Ishii said.

They will use DNA evidence to determine if there are links to other crimes the suspect may have committed, he said.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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