Transient Charged With Murder, Stealing Cellphone in Killings of La Verne Couple

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A poster displayed at a sheriff's news conference May 6, 2015, indicated a suspect was in custody in the killings of Troy and Shirley Isom. (Credit: Kareen Wynter / KTLA)

More than a year after a wealthy couple were bludgeoned to death in an attack at their home in the foothills near La Verne, a transient was charged Wednesday with capital murder in the case.

Luke Mathew Fabela, who was first identified as a suspect in May, was due to be arraigned at a still undetermined date in the Dec. 26, 2014, deaths of Shirley Isom, 74, and Armie “Troy” Isom, 89.

Fabela, 23, killed the couple for the wife’s cellphone, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

The phone was the only thing stolen from the hillside estate, according to the prosecutor.

DNA evidence led investigators to Fabela, who was in state prison in Kern County last spring when his name was disclosed as the prime suspect. State corrections records indicate he is currently being held in Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, in Fresno County.

He has ties to Claremont, Pomona and San Bernardino, the Sheriff’s Department said at the time. Both the Sheriff’s Department and the DA’s office described Fabela as a transient.

Fabela was charged with two counts of murder with the special circumstance of multiple murders in the commission of a robbery; one count of second-degree robbery; and one count of first-degree residential burglary.

The Isoms were discovered near their front door by a groundskeeper at their large home in the 300 block of Roughrider Road, investigators said at the time.

Both died of blunt-force trauma, and Shirley Isom also sustained sharp-force trauma, the DA’s office said. Their home is in an unincorporated area between Claremont and La Verne.

Fabela used a knife and a “hard object,” according to the criminal complaint against him.

He was convicted in 2011 of felony criminal threats in L.A. County, and in April 2015 of two counts of joyriding in San Bernardino County, the complaint states.