By Jim Smith
Is Venice safe? Not for at least five people whose lives ended violently on the streets of Venice during the past two years.
After more than two months of effort to obtain the information with a Freedom of Information request, the Beachhead has finally been supplied by the Los Angeles Police Department with a list of unsolved murders in Venice.
The list includes five murder victims in the past two years whose killers have not been brought to justice. Originally, the LAPD was only going to give us information for the past six months. We pointed out that if the public knew about these unsolved cases that someone might come forward with information that could lead to a conviction. In some cases, rewards are offered for such information. The LAPD has a 24-hour toll-free number to call if you have any information on these murders: 877-529-3855.
In some cases, LAPD reports state that the victims were homeless, or involved in gangs or drug activity. We have omitted that information when no substantiation to such allegations were given.
The cases from newest to oldest:
Nathan Alan Morgan – The Beachhead has pursued this brutal murder in hopes of helping to find the culprits (see Beachheads for April and May 2008). Morgan, a visitor to Venice, was found partially buried in the sand near Ocean Front Walk and Breeze Avenue on March 9, 2008. Police said it appeared that he had been beaten to death and dragged to that location. A surveillance video tape of a brutal beating at 11pm the previous night was turned over to the police, who said the resolution was too low to identify anyone. Beachhead writer Karl Abrams had the video tape digitally enhanced. The improved video showed features about the attackers and spectators. However, police said the video showed an unrelated beating (at the same time and the same place!).
Eric Paul Lorenzo – On July 7, 2007, Lorenzo was leaving the Lincoln Liquor Locker at around 6pm. Two people confronted him and his friends. One of them shot Lorenzo multiple times with a handgun. The suspect was seen getting away in a silver Prius. Even though the murder happened in broad daylight, on a busy street, no witnesses have come forward.
Verica Todor Popovich – Tiny Dancer, as she was known to many, was a popular and sometimes homeless celebrity on the Boardwalk. The front page of the March 2006 Beachhead has a drawing depicting Popovich. Like Nathan Morgan, she was beaten to death at Avenue 19 and Speedway, where she was sleeping. Her body was found on Feb. 12, 2006.
John Doe – The police do not even know the name of the man who was found dead of a gunshot wound on the morning of April 27, 2006. Oddly, the police say he was 35 years of age, although no identification was apparently found. It happened on the 800 block of 6th Avenue.
Coby Joe McBee – McBee was a visitor from Missouri who was murdered on the hill behind the Dudley Pagoda near Ocean Front Walk shortly after 1am on July 20. He was stabbed in the heart. Reportedly, McBee interceded with a very enraged man who, at that moment was about to take his anger out on a young woman. The 36-year-old victim left behind two young children in Missouri.