[symple_googlemap title=”Gardena Body” location=”14900 block of Vermont Avenue, Gardena, CA” height=”300″ zoom=”13″]

A 23-year-old transient was in custody Saturday as a suspect in the bloody stabbing death of a 49-year-old father of two who was on his way to work in the early morning darkness in Gardena.

Larry Wainscott, a Hawaiian Gardens resident, was arrested after being spotted by detectives who had identified him as a person of interest in the death of Robert Mello of Gardena. Their was no immediate word of a possible motive.

Mello was found about 5:30 a.m. Thursday in the 14900 block of Vermont Avenue by officers and firefighters who had responded to a man down on a sidewalk, according to Gardena police Lt. Steve Prendergast.

Mello, who was bleeding and unresponsive, was pronounced dead at the scene, Prendergast said. Police at first thought Mello was the victim of a traffic accident, but evidence at the scene soon changed their minds.

Wainscott was arrested on suspicion of murder, according to Pendergast.

“Investigators believe that Wainscott encountered the victim as the victim was walking to work shortly after 5 a.m.,” Prendergast said. “They also believe Wainscott used a cutting instrument to stab Mello to death.”

Wainscott was being held at the Gardena police jail in lieu of $2 million bail and was due to appear in court in Torrance on Tuesday, according to sheriff’s inmate records.

The same records showed that Wainscott was previously arrested three times this year, all for alleged misdemeanor offenses.

The latest was on Sept. 21 for allegedly driving with a suspended license. He was released from custody on Saturday.

Wainscott was also arrested on Aug. 19 for allegedly defacing property and on June 16 for an unspecified alleged offense and released the same day, according to the sheriff’s department.

It was unclear how those cases were adjudicated.

Prendergast said Mello — a married father of two children, ages 14 and 3 — was on his way to work at a BMW dealership in North Hollywood when he was attacked.

Anyone with information about the killing was urged to call Gardena Police Department Detective Octavio Saldana at (310) 217-9625 or (310) 217- 9607.

–City News Service

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