'Satan was here': Five killed at homeless camp

By: AP
By: AP

LONG BEACH, California (AP) -- Family members and friends in search of answers and solace descended Monday on a homeless encampment where five people were shot to death over the weekend, and police hoped an anonymous caller would come forward and say more.

Police cordon off the area near a makeshift camp where five homeless people were found shot to death.

1 of 3 "There is still a demon out there killing innocent people," said Don Morgan, 58, who said he was friends with the victims but wasn't homeless himself. "Satan was here that day."

The bodies of three men and two women were found Sunday in the camp, which is between commercial buildings and the 405 Freeway and appears to be accessible only by way of a drainage channel.

Authorities have not released the names of the victims or provided a motive for the slayings.

Ilager McMoore, 42, said his niece, Vanessa Malaepule, was one of the victims. He said police told him the woman was found under the body of her boyfriend, as though he tried to shield her during the shooting.

McMoore said Malaepule was not homeless but liked to hang out at the encampment.

"She was a real beautiful girl," McMoore said. "She would talk to anyone, always got that pretty laugh."

Several tent poles surrounded a length of old carpet in the camp. A shrine for one of the victims featured a picture of a woman placed atop yellow flowers and surrounded by lit candles.

Police found the bodies after a man called anonymously from a pay phone about 8:30 a.m. Sunday and directed them to the scene.

"We're still trying to find out who that person was, we would love for them to come forward," Deputy Police Chief Robert Luna said. "We believe they have more information than what they gave us."

Every day thousands of people drive by the scene near the intersection of the 405 and 710 freeways, but the encampment is hidden by heavy brush and the crime had no apparent eyewitnesses.

"The way they were situated, it was perfect in that no one can find the crime scene or see it," Luna said.

Some neighbors reported hearing gunfire and yelling at about 12:15 a.m. Sunday.

"I heard the gunshots first, and then I heard the screaming," neighbor Tippi Briggs told KNBC-TV. "I heard a guy yell 'Come on, let's go, get in the car, let's go' and then I heard the car, it just sped down the street."

The bodies were taken to the county coroner's office, where investigators were trying to identify them and determine how long they had been dead.

Some of the victims had been shot more than once, said Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the coroner's office.


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