The deaths of a teenage girl and a young woman whose bodies were found alongside Los Angeles freeways within a span of nine months in 2011 and 2012 are linked, police said Tuesday in appealing for the public’s help to solve the crimes.
“We were unable to conclusively come up with that information until just very recently, where we were able to obtain forensic evidence that linked the two cases,” Los Angeles police Capt. William Hayes, commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division, said outside LAPD headquarters. “At this point in time, we are convinced that the same individual or individuals is responsible for both the abductions of Michelle Lozano and Bree’Anna Guzman and their subsequent murders.”
Two $50,000 rewards have been offered by the Los Angeles City Council for information in the killings of Guzman, 22, and Lozano, 17; both were residents of Lincoln Heights.
Guzman’s body was found near the Riverside Drive on-ramp to the Glendale (2) Freeway in Silver Lake on Jan. 26, 2012. She had last been seen Dec. 26, 2011, at a Rite-Aid in Lincoln Heights, according to the LAPD.
The body of Lozano was found in a plastic storage container in Boyle Heights near the Cesar Chavez Avenue off-ramp of the Golden State (5) Freeway on April 25, 2011. She was last seen a day earlier near Lincoln High School in the Lincoln Heights area. Asphyxia by strangulation was determined to be the cause of death.
The City Council first approved $50,000 rewards in each case in February of 2012.
At the time, EGP reported that the killings of Guzman and Lozano had fueled rumors the two cases were connected and there had been other attempted abductions. Hoping to allay rumors that a serial killer was on the loose in Lincoln Heights, the LAPD issued an alert saying they believed the two murders were “distinct,” and not connected. Rumors of several men riding around in a “white van kidnapping young women from the street” could not be corroborated, detectives from the Robbery-Homicide Division said at the time.
Former Councilman Ed P. Reyes introduced the original emergency motions requesting the reward money. At the time, he too said, “There’s no evidence to describe it any other way than distinct cases.”
Detectives now say they suspected all long that the two cases were connected, but did not have information backing up their suspicions.
Hayes declined to elaborate on the nature of the forensic evidence linking the cases. He said the victims did not know one another. Police had no descriptions available of the suspect or suspects, or of any vehicle involved in the case, Hayes said.
Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo said the girl’s families deserve justice in the case.
“If you know anything of these crimes please join us in our efforts to bring justice and closure to these families,” Cedillo said.
When Guzman first went missing, her family blanketed the neighborhood with posters with her picture, and asked anyone with information to contact the Los Angeles Police Department.
Four candlelight vigils were held, drawing hundreds who were shaken by the mother of two small children’s disappearance the day after Christmas.
Darlene Guzman Duran, the mother of Bree’Anna Guzman, said Tuesday she cannot believe nobody has come forward with information.
“I know somebody knows something,” Duran said. “Please come forward and help us.”
Anyone with information on the crimes was urged to call detectives Frank Carrillo or Jay King, (213) 486-6890, or (877) LAPD-247.