Man Questioned in Fatal Rolling Hills Estates Stabbing

ROLLING HILLS ESTATES (CNS) - Sheriff's detectives today questioned a man they described as a ``person of interest'' in connection with the fatal stabbing of a 66-year-old woman in a parking structure inside a shopping mall in Rolling Hills Estates, but said they do not have sufficient evidence to warrant the man's arrest in the death.

The man remains in custody for an unrelated charge.

The attack took place shortly after 12:20 p.m. Thursday at the Promenade on the Peninsula shopping mall in the 500 block of Deep Valley Drive, said Deputy Dangelo Robinson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Information Bureau.

Susan Leeds of Rancho Palos Verdes was found inside her SUV parked inside the Promenade's parking garage with her throat cut and several stab wounds to the chest.

It's unknown if the woman was a victim of a robbery, according to the sheriff's department.

Leeds -- a wife and mother of two grown children -- was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Following the crime, the sheriff's department released a photo of a man they described as a possible person of interest who was being sought for questioning. The picture showed a man wearing a red baseball cap and black jacket, with a cup of coffee. The photo was taken from security video at the mall.

The man could be a suspect or a witness, sheriff's officials said.

At about 8 a.m. Friday, the sheriff's department reported that authorities had detained a man near the 1600 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Harbor City, where he appeared to be wearing a hat and jacket similar to those worn by the person in the security camera footage.

He was arrested there for an unrelated charge and taken to the sheriff's Lomita Station for booking.

``While in custody, detectives interviewed him regarding the homicide,'' said Deputy Armando Viera Jr. ``In addition to the interview, a warrant was obtained in order to examine other physical evidence related to the person of interest.

``Sufficient evidence was not developed in order to warrant an arrest of the person of interest for the homicide. The individual is still in custody for the unrelated charge.''

As he was being placed in the backseat of a police car, he appeared to yell and scream at officers. The man has been described as a transient by Rolling Hills Estates residents interviewed by reporters.

The killing was the first homicide on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in nearly a decade, according to The Daily Breeze. Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Britt Huff told the newspaper the stabbing was ``unbelievable.''

One of the victim's family members, Ben Leeds told reporters, ``It's a tragedy to the family and the community.''

Sheriff's Homicide Bureau detectives asked anyone with any information regarding the death to call them at (323) 890-5500.

Photo: Getty Images

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