Times coverage: Suspected home-invasion killer charged with two other deaths
A man suspected of killing a Hawthorne couple during a home robbery has been also charged with two other recent murders.
Several weeks ago, John Wesley Ewell, a 53-year-old black man, was apprehended by sheriff's deputies in Lennox and booked on suspicion of murder in connection with the deaths of Leamon and Robyn Turnage.
Family members of Leaman, a 69-year-old white man, and Robyn, a 57-year-old white woman, had been unable to contact them and requested that authorities conduct a welfare check.
When Hawthorne police arrived at the Turnage home, they discovered the two had been strangled, officials said. During the course of the investigation, authorities also found that the home had been ransacked.
Leamon Turnage was killed in his garage, and then the killer went inside the house and killed his wife, according to detectives, who described Ewell as an ex-con who lived in the area.
Detectives were able to arrest Ewell after determining that he had used Turnage's ATM card at a nearby Shell station, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Authorities have a "mountain of evidence they are sifting through that connects him" to the slayings, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
On Wednesday, L.A. County prosecutors charged Ewell with two more killings, one in Hawthorne and another near his home in Los Angeles. Both of the crimes were allegedly committed during similar home break-in robberies, said Jane Robison, a district attorney’s office spokeswoman.
Ewell is charged with the Sept. 24 slaying of Hanna Morcos in Hawthorne and the Oct. 13 killing of Denice Roberts in Los Angeles. Roberts, 53, was found bound and gagged with bruising to the neck in the 12000 block of South Hoover Street.
Morcos was found about 8:30 p.m. face down in his apartment in the 4100 block of West 137th Street. His wife was in the house at the time of the attack but was not injured.
Prosecutors say they will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against Ewell.
Reporter Richard Winton has more on the story in LA Now: Home-robbery suspect tied to four killings in Hawthorne, South L.A.
Top photo: Leamon and Robyn Turnage. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department via KTLA News. Bottom photo: John Ewell. Credit: L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
March 2, 2011 - Cause of death determinations: July to December 2010
Oct. 25, 2010 - Leamon Turnage, 69
Oct. 25, 2010 - Robyn Turnage, 57
Oct. 18, 2010 - Denice Roberts, 53 [Updated]
Sept. 29, 2010 - Hanna Morcos, 80 [Updated]
Follow the Homicide Report on Twitter @latimeshomicide.
Updated: Nov. 3, 2010 at 10:55 p.m.