A man has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a teenage girl in South Los Angeles, and LAPD detectives on Friday were investigating a possible connection between that crime and three homicides in the same area, officials said.
Robert Ransom, 30, has been booked on three charges – kidnapping, attempted sexual assault and attempted murder, according to Cmdr. Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Ransom was being held without bail at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic and was due to appear Friday in Los Angeles Municipal Court, online records showed.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred about 6:10 p.m. March 20 near the intersection of Gage Avenue and San Pedro Street, where a man walked up to a 16-year-old girl and forced her into a van at knifepoint, authorities said.
The man drove the victim to another location and attempted to sexually assault her, the LAPD said in a statement. He then drove her to an alley near Imperial Highway and New Hampshire Avenue, where she managed to escape on foot after he doused her with a flammable liquid.
The week after the attack, police released a composite sketch of the alleged kidnapper, whom they described as a 20-to-30-year-old black male with black hair, brown eyes, a dark complexion, standing 5 feet 7 inches and weighing about 170 pounds.
Investigators are examining the possibility that the incident may be connected to the recent deaths of three victims at nearby locations.
On March 5, a woman and her 1-year-old son were discovered by firefighters after a blaze was extinguished at a house in the 100 block of East Fiftieth Street.
Gisella Yauli, 28, died at the scene. Her son, Dillon Reyes, was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Yauli had tape on her face and she had been tied up, coroner’s officials said.
Oscar Reyes lost his longtime girlfriend and his youngest son in the double slaying, leaving him to raise the couple’s 7-year-old son alone.
“Why he did that, there’s no reason,” Oscar Reyes said.
A $75,000 reward has been offered in the case, and the two deaths are being investigated as homicides, according to police.
“If it is him, you know, justice should be done for me and the rest of the family,” Reyes said.
On March 2, a 19-year-old woman died after being found near West 93rd Street and South Grand Avenue. She had been bound and suffered burns.
After his release in June 2013, Ransom failed to check in with his county probation officer so a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to L.A. County Probation Dept. Deputy Chief Reaver Bingham..
The warrant was issued about a week before the 16-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped, tortured and nearly set on fire, according to Bingham.