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Sylmar Man Accused of Killing Elderly Woman And Assaulting Ex-Girlfriend PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry   
Thursday, 21 February 2013 08:52

Drug Use May Be A Factor In Tragic Family Dispute

A 25-year-old man remains in custody on suspicion of murdering the mother of his ex-girlfriend and beating the ex-girlfriend attacking both victims with a metal pipe, in what Los Angeles police described as a family dispute that tragically spiraled out of control.

Lt. Paul Vernon of the LAPD Mission Station said Juan Carlos Cardenas was arrested Tuesday, Feb. 19, and is accused of killing Rosa Figueroa, 61, with repeated blows to the head. Cardenas also reportedly struck Figueroa's 24- year-old daughter – whose name was not released – several times in the face with the same pipe. She remains hospitalized in serious condition with multiple fractures to the face, with her mouth wired shut.

According to Vernon, Cardenas has a history of methamphetamine use. He said the Figueroa had been granted a restraining order against Cardenas after he kicked in her apartment door. The daughter, who has a two-month old son in common with Cardenas, was also seeking a restraining order. He said police are still determining whether drugs played a part in the attack.

"All I'm saying is, the family told us he has a history of methamphetamine use," Vernon said. "Whether he is [on drugs] or isn't at the time, his family had become in such terror of him because of his erratic and violent behavior over the last year or so. They attributed that to his methamphetamine addiction."

Vernon added that Cardenas had been jailed earlier this year for assaulting his own mother. "He'd gotten 12 days in jail for that and released," he said.

Vernon said the incident occurred at approximately 4:05 p.m. Tuesday, in the 13300 block of Borden Street.

The lieutenant said a witness was driving westbound on Borden Street when he noticed a SUV coming up behind him at a high rate of speed. The SUV went around the witness' car, and pulled into a long, unpaved driveway.

"[The witness] thought something was going on in the car, and turned down the driveway and went up the driveway," Vernon said. "He followed the car…and saw two women bail out of the car very quickly and run away from it."

The witness called 9-1-1, Vernon said, and the scene started to calm down. But then the man inside the SUV started to aggressively pursue Figueroa, chasing her with his vehicle toward a back fence.

There was initial information the man had run the murdered victim over, Vernon said. But as police investigated, the assault on Figueroa was with the pipe. "Until we see the autopsy and post-mortem, we won't know for sure if she was [struck by the car]. But he definitely, according to the witness, gunned the car after her, trying to hit her," Vernon said.

He said Figueroa was struck repeatedly in the head with the pipe. "[The suspect] hit her over the head (several times), some severe, severe wounds on her head. Our witness actually saw those strikes."

The man then turned his attention to the daughter, who had jumped a fence and was inside a fenced in area on an adjoining property. Vernon said the victim was struck repeatedly in the face.

"When she came out walking toward officers, her face was completely mangled," Vernon said. "And doctors told us at the hospital that every bone in her face was broken, and they had to wire her mouth shot. They actually sedated her because she was so badly injured.

"They said the good point was her face sustained most of the trauma, which protected her brain. That's why she was able to survive."

Vernon said the witness resumed reporting details of the incident to the 9-1-1 Operator. When LAPD officers arrived on scene, the witness pointed out the suspect.

"The suspect just came walking out; he was winded, and was not trying to get away," Vernon said. "He had dropped the pipe" – police said they later found the alleged murder weapon behind a white picket fence in the yard where the daughter was attacked – "and [the witness] pointed that man to the officers, who took him into custody without any incident."

Through further investigation, Vernon said, police learned "this man has been using methamphetamine for some time. He has completely terrorized this family.

"This is a very unfortunate domestic violence kind of a deal that was perpetrated by someone using drugs. When people start talking about legalizing drugs…people are still gonna act this way when they're under the influence of them – especially things like methamphetamine and bath salts. These bring on a huge amount of rage, violence and paranoia among the abusers of them."

Vernon went on to say the situation could have been worse without the witness being present. "I think the fact that [without the witness being] here and willing to be involved and call the police, the [suspect] might have spent more time attacking the ex-girlfriend, and she would have never survived," Vernon said. "He certainly made sure the older woman didn't.

"And you know the real tragedy? Both women were trying to help get him to a hospital."

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 February 2013 23:54