Three new murder charges were filed Tuesday against a suspect who is believed to have killed three members of the same family in Hollywood’s Little Armenia District, as well as murdering a prostitute on Sunset Boulevard in an unrelated incident last spring.
Alberd Tersargyan, 60, now faces a total of four counts of murder, and appeared in court Wednesday for an arraignment. He did not enter a plea, and a new hearing was scheduled for August 13, according to Jane Robison, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Tersargyan was previously charged with the March 26 murder of 38-year-old Karine Hakobyan, who was shot once in the head as she sat in her car outside her apartment in the 5800 block of Lexington Avenue. Police believe Tersargyan had an obsession with Hakobyan and had been stalking her prior to the murder.
Tersargyan was charged Tuesday with the murders of Hakobyan’s husband, Khachik Safaryan, and her eight-year-old daughter, Lusine. They were found dead inside the family’s apartment in the 1200 block of Tamarind Avenue in December 2008. According to Det. Kevin Whelan, with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division, Tersargyan was a family friend of the victims. Investigators contend that Tersargyan killed Safaryan and the couple’s eight-year-old daughter in an attempt to become closer to Hakobyan, and later murdered her when she rebuffed his advances. The family is survived by a 14-year-old daughter who reportedly now lives with relatives. That daughter came home to find the bodies of her father and sister in the initial incident, and also found her mother’s body earlier this year.
Tersargyan reportedly came to the United States from Armenia 10 years ago and settled in Hollywood’s Little Armenia District. He later became close friends with Safaryan and Hakobyan around 2003, after the couple also immigrated to Hollywood from Armenia.
Investigators described Tersargyan as a former member of the Armenian Army, and said he was one of many acquaintances of the victims that detectives spoke with while investigating the murders. Investigators now believe he tried to confuse detectives by providing false information that would deflect suspicion from him. Police allegedly turned their focus to Tersargyan in April after a colleague at a furniture business where Tersar-gyan worked became suspicious and notified police in Glendale. The information was passed along to LAPD investigators, who later arrested Ter-sargyan on April 21. A handgun be-longing to Tersargyan was recovered and has been linked to the shooting of all three of the family members.
During the course of their investigation into Tersargyan, investigators also determined that he was likely involved in the murder of Julie Kates, who police said was a prostitute who frequented the Hollywood area. Kates was standing near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Kingsley Drive in March when she was shot in the temple. Investigators allegedly linked Tersargyan to the Kates murder after one of the victim’s acquaintances said a man fitting Tersargyan’s description, and driving a grey van similar to the suspect’s vehicle, had become involved in a confrontation with the victim the day before she was killed. Police believe Tersargyan contacted Kates for sex and later accused her of stealing a DVD player from his van. Police believe Tersar-gyan shot Kates from inside his van, which was likely parked across the street at the time, and may have used a gun with a silencer.
No additional information about the specific evidence linking Tersargyan to the crimes was available, but the criminal complaint against him outlines the general sequence of events. Robison added that Tersargyan is being held without bail, and added that prosecutors will determine at a later time whether to pursue the death penalty.
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