A 23-year-old CSUN student from Saudi Arabia whose body was found off the 10 Freeway near Palm Springs was fatally stabbed by a Long Beach man who responded to the student's online ad to sell his car, police said Monday.
Agustin Rosendo Fernandez, 28, of Long Beach appeared in court Monday to face allegations against him in the death of Abdullah Abdullatif Alkadi, who was last seen Sept. 17.
Fernandez was charged with one count of murder with the special circumstances of murder during a robbery and murder during a carjacking. The defendant allegedly used a knife, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Fernandez responded to an ad Alkadi posted on Craigslist for an Audi A6 for sale for more than $30,000, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said at an afternoon news conference Monday.
After the two men met at Alkadi's house, at some point Fernandez allegedly killed Alkadi in an attempt to keep the money and the car, Beck said.
"This is a very sad case," Beck said. "The time that the money is exchanged is a very dangerous time for people that are selling vehicles. … This was an attempt by Mr. Fernandez to get it both ways, to take the car and to keep the money."
Police said Sunday that two people had been arrested in the case, but no other information was immediately provided. The second person was no longer in custody and it was not certain if charges would be filed against that individual, Beck said Monday.
Alkadi's body was discovered late Thursday night near the 10 Freeway in Palm Desert. Beck did not say how the body got to the site, nearly 150 miles east of Alkadi's home.
According to county inmate records, Fernandez was arrested by LAPD Thursday morning, before the body was reported found. He was booked about 8 a.m. Friday.
Fernandez was in possession of the Audi when he was arrested, and there was evidence related to the stabbing death in the vehicle, Beck said.
During Monday's news conference, Beck repeatedly declined to answer detailed questions about the case, saying answers would damage the prosecution's ability to get a conviction.
He warned the public to be wary when using online sites "for anything," saying they are "opportunities to let unwanted people into your life."
A 23-year-old electrical engineering major from Saudi Arabia, Alakdi was last seen at his Northridge home in the 9900 block of Reseda Boulevard. He was last heard from in a "normal" phone call to a cousin, said his brother, Ahmed Alkadi.
Earlier this month, Alkadi's brother had said he was told the Craigslist car sale transaction was not believed to be linked to Alkadi's death.
Alkadi's parents were "shocked" and "beside themselves with grief" after receiving word of their son's death, family friend Salman Al-Mutawa said.
"They couldn't believe what happened, because they sent their child to study, not to get into this situation and involved in a problem that he shouldn't have been involved with," Al-Mutawa said.
Alkadi's brother said Sunday that the family does not intend to make any statement and was busy making arrangements to transport the 23-year-old's remains back to Saudi Arabia.
Fernandez, meanwhile, is eligible for the death penalty, according to the DA's office.
Fernandez appeared at San Fernando Superior Court, where his arraignment hearing was postponed until Nov. 17. No cameras were allowed in the courtroom.
He was ordered held without bail.