Authorities Friday announced the arrest of a woman in the fatal stabbing of a 66-year-old woman inside a mall parking structure in Rolling Hills Estates.

Cherie Townsend, 39, was taken into custody early Thursday morning in Victorville and booked on suspicion of murder in the May 3 death of Susan Leeds of Rancho Palos Verdes, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported. She was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

The motive for the crime was believed to be robbery, and investigators believe the victim was “randomly chosen” and was not known by the suspect, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at a news conference at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles.

“This was a crime that shocked the community,” McDonnell said.

Leeds was attacked about 12:15 p.m. May 3 in the parking garage at the Promenade on the Peninsula in the 500 block of Deep Valley Drive.

She was found inside her white 2016 Mercedes-Benz SUV parked on the first floor of the Promenade’s parking garage, with her throat cut and several stab wounds to the chest.

The suspect’s vehicle — a gold 2008 Chevrolet Malibu — had been parked on the same floor, the sheriff said, noting that there is still a “tremendous amount of investigative work” to be done.

Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity around the two vehicles that day was asked to contact sheriff’s detectives.

“There were items taken from the scene that led us to believe it was a robbery as well as additional follow-up evidence,” sheriff’s Capt. Chris Bergner told reporters. “The physical evidence is what helped us lead to a suspect, but there’s still a lot of physical evidence to process — both physically process and forensically process.”

One of the victim’s stepsons, Fred Leeds, described his stepmother as “very kind, very sweet, very loving,” and said his father wanted to convey that he loved his wife of 23 years very much and that “she’s greatly missed by our family.”

Another of her stepsons, Ben Leeds, urged any potential witnesses to come forward.

Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Britt Huff said the midday crime was a “very traumatic experience” for those in a city she said is known for being one of the safest in California.

“We are just very appreciative that the suspect has been arrested and we feel confident in the process that is going on now,” she said.

A man was initially detained May 4 as a person of interest in the case, but was ultimately ruled out as a suspect in the killing.

“Forensic evidence and video surveillance indicated that (the man) was not involved in this crime,” the sheriff said. “However, our investigators collected critical evidence at the crime scene that has led us to … Cherie Townsend.”

The sheriff said investigators have not ruled out the possibility that one or more other suspects may have been involved in the crime. “However, we do not have any information that leads us to any other suspects at this time,” he said.

Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

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