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Two men arrested in 2009 slaying of Long Beach grandmother

September 12, 2013|By Kate Mather and Nicole Santa Cruz
  • Sgt. Erik Herzog posts a flyer in a Long Beach neighborhood July 23 about the 2009 slaying of Leam Sovanasy. Police announced the arrests of two men on suspicion of killing the grandmother.
Sgt. Erik Herzog posts a flyer in a Long Beach neighborhood July 23 about… (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los…)

Long Beach police have arrested two people in the 2009 slaying of a 76-year-old grandmother who was stabbed inside her home.

Leam Sovanasy's daughter, Samantha Sovanasy, said her last memory of her mother was watching her kneel in prayer and meditation the morning of Jan. 31, 2009.

She left for work and her brother, who lived in a nearby unit, found their mother stabbed to death in what police at the time said was a "crime of opportunity."

The case was cold for years, but then investigators in July received a tip about a car spotted nearby on the same day of the crime. After canvassing the neighborhood off North Peterson Avenue and East 14th Street, police were able to develop a sketch of a person of interest and distributed a sketch of a second suspect.

At a news conference Thursday morning, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said Freddie Battle, 25, and Dontae Davis, 24, were arrested last week on suspicion of stabbing Sovanasy in her Long Beach home during a burglary.

McDonnell said there were "classic signs of a burglary," with the entry point a broken window.

McDonnell did not say how the car was identified in July, citing the ongoing case. "It was a whole bunch of things that came together," he said.

After the sketch was released in August, Davis called Long Beach police and said he was one of the men.

Davis tried to fish for information about the case, Lt. Lloyd Cox said, and told police he would come down to the station with his attorney. He never showed, authorities said.

Investigators linked Davis and Battle with traffic citations, and ultimately tied them to the Sovanasy case using DNA.

Battle was arrested Sept. 5, and Davis the next day, authorities said. The pair now face murder and burglary charges.

Sovanasy had seven children and 20 grandchildren. Her daughter said she came to the United States from Cambodia in 1979 to escape the Khmer Rouge. 


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