Pasadena Man Arrested in Stabbing, Strangling Death of 76-Year-Old Retired Doctor in El Sereno

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The 3900 block of Van Horne Avenue in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles, as viewed in a Google Street View image.

The 3900 block of Van Horne Avenue in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles, as viewed in a Google Street View image.

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Police and FBI agents arrested a Pasadena man Wednesday in connection with the killing of a retired doctor found stabbed and strangled to death in her El Sereno home earlier this month.

Timothy Chavira, 56, was booked on suspicion of murder following his arrest shortly after 9:30 p.m. by Los Angeles Police Department officers, working with an FBI task force, according to LAPD officials and Los Angeles County booking records.

The arrest stems from the Dec. 8 killing of 76-year-old Editha Cruz de Leon in the 3900 block of North Van Horne Avenue, where public records indicate she lived.

Police were notified a woman had died just before noon, police said in a written statement. Officers initiated a “death investigation.”

It was soon determined that de Leon’s death was the result of foul play.

An autopsy found she died from “sharp force injuries and strangulation,” records from the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner show.

Detectives identified Chavira as a suspect and took him into custody Wednesday night, officials said. Details of the arrest were not available.

Information regarding a motive in the killing, as well as whether Chavira and de Leon knew one another prior to the attack, were not available Thursday.

De Leon grew up in the Philippines with 11 siblings in the Philippines, according to an online obituary. She migrated to the U.S. with her husband, Rogelio, in the 1970s “to pursue her the American dream for her young family and continued her medical training in Ohio.”

De Leon became on obstetrician and her family moved to California in the 1980s, the obituary said.

“After retiring from medicine, Editha traveled extensively across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia and eventually slowed down to be at home and closer to her grandchildren both in California and New Jersey,” according to the obituary. “In retirement, she pursued her hobbies of gardening, cooking and wine tasting.”

“As a mother of five boys, Editha instilled in them a strong sense of discipline and passed onto them her unique outlook on life,” the obituary said. “She was extremely proud of her boys for what they accomplished.”

De Leon also left behind four grandchildren.

Bail for Chavira was set at $2 million pending his initial court appearance, records show.

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