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LAPD looking for jewelry in connection with Joseph Gatto case

December 05, 2013|By Kate Mather
  • In a community alert dated Wednesday, Los Angeles police asked the public for information about jewelry made by Joseph Gatto, the 78-year-old artist found shot to death in his Silver Lake home last month.
In a community alert dated Wednesday, Los Angeles police asked the public… (Los Angeles Police Department )

Detectives asked for the public's help Thursday in locating jewelry that may have been taken from the home of Joseph Gatto, the artist and father of a state assemblyman found shot to death in his Silver Lake home.

Detectives are still trying to determine whether any jewelry was actually taken from the 78-year-old's home, LAPD Det. Chris Gable said, and are hoping to talk to anyone who may have acquired any custom-made pieces from someone other than Gatto himself.

"[We're interested in whether] they got it from someone other than him recently, or if they saw it in a pawn shop," Gable said.

In a community alert dated Wednesday, the LAPD said investigators were "searching for any pieces that may have been purchased or sold by pawn shops." The flier described Gatto's jewelry as "ornate" and said the pieces often included his signature.

"Mr. Gatto engraved many of his pieces with his initials and name 'J A Gatto' along with a circular design," the flier read.

Police asked anyone with "any pieces or information about them" to contact detectives at (213) 486-6890.

Gatto's killing rattled the Silver Lake community he had long called home, marking the neighborhood's first homicide since May 2012. Gatto's daughter found his body the night of Nov. 13 -- he was slumped over a desk, with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Authorities have not said when they believe Gatto was killed, and it remains unclear when he was last seen. 

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told reporters Thursday that investigators are working the case "diligently," but declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation.

"Let's just say the investigation is progressing," he said.

LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese previously told The Times that detectives had "no information whatsoever" that Gatto's death "has anything to do with his son's politics." Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) represents a district that includes Silver Lake, where the family has lived for years.

Albanese said police were investigating "a number of different avenues," including whether the slaying was linked to a Nov. 12 aggravated assault and a vehicle break-in not far from Gatto's home.

Last month, the LAPD issued a sketch of a suspect in that assault, saying it "may be connected" to Gatto's slaying.

The elder Gatto spent decades teaching art at schools across Los Angeles and was remembered by former students as a tough-love teacher whose honesty and guidance made him a valued mentor. He was described as a fixture in the community, a loving father and grandfather proud of his children's accomplishments.

Hundreds gathered at a Los Feliz church late last month to honor Gatto. His son fought back tears as he addressed the crowd.

“Deaths like my father's are extremely difficult because nobody got a chance to say goodbye,” Mike Gatto said.

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kate.mather@latimes.com

Twitter: @katemather | Google+

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