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Police continue search for suspect in fatal West Hills stabbing

June 16, 2013|By Kim Christensen
  • Neighbors walk past the West Hills home where a fatal stabbing occurred.
Neighbors walk past the West Hills home where a fatal stabbing occurred.

Los Angeles police continued to search Sunday for a 46-year-old man who allegedly stabbed his estranged wife and left her to die on a quiet residential street in West Hills as neighbors rushed to her side.

Michael Rodney Kane, an elementary school teacher, forced his way into a home in the 7100 block of Deveron Ridge Road, where his wife, Michelle Ann Kane, 43, was staying with friends after he acted erratically, vandalized his family’s house and violated a temporary restraining order, police said Sunday.

After scuffling with the homeowner and cutting the man’s hand with a knife, Kane allegedly stabbed his estranged wife multiple times about 7:50 a.m. Saturday before she collapsed in the street, police said.

Neighbors who heard the commotion stepped outside to find the woman mortally wounded.

“My son and my wife tried to stop the bleeding,” said Loni Specter, 63, who lives next door to where Kane and her children were staying. “Both of them did what they could, but she was pretty much dead. ... It was a nightmare.”

Kane’s two children, and two from the family with whom they were staying, hid in a bathroom during the attack, neighbor Roy Bernard said the homeowners told him. The wife of the injured man huddled with them, he said.

“She said, ‘No noise. No talking. Stay quiet,’" Bernard said.

The woman’s husband, who knew both of the Kanes, told Bernard that he at first thought he could talk Michael Kane out of doing anything rash, and then shouted to Michelle to “run as fast as you can out the front door and don’t stop,”  when he was attacked.

“Unfortunately, her husband caught her and he butchered her,” Bernard said. “It’s a tragedy.”

Michelle Kane was pronounced dead at the scene in the hilly, well-kept neighborhood of mostly 1960s tract homes, many of them occupied by their original owners.

No one was home Sunday at the house where the victim was staying.

Just hours before the stabbing, Michelle had gone to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Topanga Station to report that her estranged husband had vandalized the home they once shared and had violated a temporary restraining order she’d recently obtained, Sgt. Al Flores said Sunday.

“She came in here the night before and said that they were going through a divorce and that she was concerned, that she was worried,” Flores said.

Among other things, Michelle told police that Michael had been uncharacteristically irrational lately and was using drugs, Flores said.

He said one of the officers at the station spent more than an hour with Michelle Kane on Friday night. Flores said he could not discuss specifics of their conversation because of the pending investigation, but he defended LAPD’s handling of the situation and said it underscores the difficulties of dealing with domestic violence.

“I believe that everything that we could possibly do for her was done,” Flores said.

The suspect, who appears to have taught at at least two elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School Disctrict, is described as being 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds. He was last seen driving his 1999 Chrysler 300M silver, gray or mint green in color with California license plate number 4HGP487.

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kim.christensen@latimes.com

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