A suspected serial killer responsible for the brutal slayings of three homeless individuals in Los Angeles has been identified and taken into custody. The breakthrough came on Saturday when investigators realized that the alleged perpetrator, 33-year-old convicted felon Jerrid Joseph Powell, was already in custody for a separate murder.
Powell is accused of carrying out a violent four-day killing spree, targeting vulnerable individuals as they slept on the streets. The victims include 37-year-old Jose Bolanos, 62-year-old Mark Diggs, and an unidentified third victim, all killed in a ruthless manner. A fourth man, not homeless, also fell victim to Powell during a botched burglary.
City officials had issued an urgent plea just a day before, warning unhoused individuals about a killer "preying on the unhoused." Mayor Karen Bass announced the arrest at a press briefing, stating, "Twenty-four hours ago, we announced there was a killer on the loose. Now he is in custody."
Powell had been in custody since Wednesday, initially arrested for the burglary gone wrong. Authorities did not delve into Powell's detailed criminal history but emphasized that he is a convicted felon with a background involving violent crime.
Sheriff Robert Luna commented on Powell's criminal history, stating, "Based on his criminal history, he didn't just start doing this a week ago."
The alleged spree began with the murder of Jose Bolanos on Sunday at 3 a.m., followed by the killing of Mark Diggs just 24 hours later. The third victim lost their life around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, shortly before Powell's arrest. Powell was apprehended in connection to a follow-home robbery on Tuesday night that resulted in the death of a 42-year-old father of two, Nicholas Simbolon.
Powell was tracked down through an automatic license plate reader system, leading to a traffic stop in Beverly Hills where he was taken into custody. Inside his vehicle, a handgun was discovered and identified as the murder weapon used in all four killings.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore commended the use of advanced tools, stating, "Had they not had access to those tools, this individual, I am convinced, would still be moving about the city, in the region, and killing individuals, innocent individuals, helpless individuals."
The motive behind Powell's rampage remains unclear, but Chief Moore emphasized that the homeless victims were killed "without provocation." The city has responded to the indiscriminate killings by creating a task force and opening emergency shelters to protect homeless individuals from potential harm.
Authorities are now exploring the possibility of Powell's involvement in other cases. Powell is currently held on a $2.1 million bail as the investigation continues.