OC Jails Records Second COVID-19 Inmate Death

SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 37-year-old murder defendant was the second today to succumb to COVID-19 in Orange County Jail custody.

Ah Le Fang, who tested positive in December, had been hospitalized since Jan. 15 for coronavirus while awaiting trial of fatally stabbing his 50-year-old mother, Lu Thao, and wounding her 75-year-old boyfriend.

Fang was charged with murder and attempted murder for the Aug. 15, 2017, attack. He was also facing sentencing enhancements for personal use of a deadly weapon and attempted premeditated murder.

Fang's mother called Fullerton police to report she was being attacked, police said. Officers who arrived on scene found the victim outside her apartment complex at 134 S. Pritchard Ave., suffering from a stab wound to her abdomen. Police also found her boyfriend, who sustained a stab wound to an arm.

Thao and her companion were taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Fang lived with his victims and his adult sister, police said. Fang got into an argument with his sibling and then went to his bedroom, police said.

When his mother tried to talk to him through the door he refused to come out initially, but later when he finally opened his door he emerged with a knife in hand and attacked his mother and her boyfriend before running away, police said.

Fang had a history of mental illness and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, poly substance abuse and bipolar disorder.

Fang's death comes just more than a month after 68-year-old Eddie Lee Anderson of River Ridge, Louisiana, became the first inmate to succumb to COVID-19 while in Orange County custody.

Anderson tested positive while being housed at the Theo Lacy branch jail in December, one of hundreds infected in an outbreak at the county's lockups. Anderson died Dec. 18 while in a local hospital, said Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Anderson was charged with the May 18, 1976, murder of Leslie Penrod Harris, who was raped and strangled.

Harris had dinner with her husband the evening before at a Costa Mesa restaurant, but she left alone about 8:30 p.m. and was reported missing by her spouse when she failed to return home. Her body was found hours later.

The case went cold until last year, when new DNA technology led investigators to Anderson, a former Marine who had been assigned to the El Toro Marine base in the early 1970s, sheriff's investigators said. Anderson lived less than a mile away from the Costa Mesa restaurant where the victim had been dining the night before she was killed. When investigators visited Anderson in May of 2019, the defendant volunteered a DNA sample, sheriff's officials said.

The number of inmates infected with coronavirus in the jails has gone down to 61 Thursday with two still hospitalized.

Photo: Getty Images

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