Long Beach police. Photo by John Schreiber.
Long Beach police. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Long Beach Police Department Saturday released the name of a woman who authorities believe was an accomplice for a 39-year-old man arrested in connection with a series of robberies and assaults targeting senior citizens.

The woman was identified as Sophia Yim, 31, of Lynwood.

Yim was arrested on suspicion of robbery and was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, police said.

Her alleged accomplice, Melvin Earl Farmer Jr. of Lynwood, was arrested around 9:15 a.m. Friday and was being held in lieu of $2 million bail, according to Long Beach police and sheriff’s inmate records.

Farmer had been detained in the area of Century Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles and questioned as a person of interest in the case after authorities released video and a photograph that led to a tip, LBPD Chief Robert Luna told reporters Friday.

“Through the media coverage of the photo and video, someone saw that and believed they recognized the man and called police — and that’s one of the reasons we’re here today,” Luna said.

Luna praised his department’s investigators and technicians, as well as the victims, who he called “the real heroes.”

“Their strength and courageous actions are admirable,” he said.

The latest crime occurred at 7:25 a.m. Thursday, when officers were dispatched to a panic alarm at a residence in the 3700 block of Pacific Avenue, LBPD spokeswoman Marlene Arrona said.

“Arriving officers determined a residential robbery and an (attempted) sexual assault occurred,” she said.

The culprit rang the victim’s doorbell, forced his way into her home, tried to sexually assault her and then “fled with the victim’s property,” Arrona said.

The 90-year-old woman was able to fight off her attacker. She suffered injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening and was taken to a hospital for treatment, Arrona said.

“Detectives believe this incident is tied to the robbery series in/around a senior housing complex near Atlantic Avenue and Via Carmelitos,” Arrona said.

In the other four crimes, a suspect victimized women ranging in age from 63 to 95 between Feb. 2 and Sunday at the senior housing complex, police said. In most cases, a man knocked on the door, forced his way inside and physically assaulted the victims, police said.

The suspect got away with purses, cellphones and cash, police said.

In one case, the victim was walking near the residential complex when the robbery occurred. The four attacks were carried out at various times between 5:45 a.m. and 7:45 p.m., police said.

Sunday’s attack escalated to a sexual assault, police said.

Detectives obtained video from surveillance cameras in the area and released it and a photo of the suspect, leading to the tip that helped them identify Farmer.

Farmer was booked on suspicion of residential robbery, rape by force or fear, oral copulation by force or injury, making a death threat and assault with a non-firearm deadly weapon with great bodily injury, Arrona said, adding that “his lengthy criminal history includes robbery and theft.”

—City News Service

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