The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed a 66-year-old retired nurse found dead inside her car in Rolling Hills Estates just over a year ago.
Supervisor Janice Hahn recommended the reward in the case of Rancho Palos Verdes resident Susan Leeds, who was killed on May 3, 2018. She was found with her throat cut and several stab wounds to her chest in her 2016 Mercedes-Benz SUV, which was parked on the first floor of a parking garage at the Promenade on the Peninsula shopping center at 550 Deep Valley Drive.
“Susan Leeds’ family and the entire Peninsula community deserve answers,” Hahn said in her motion. “If you have any information about who may be responsible for this heinous crime, I urge you to speak to authorities.”
Hahn also took the unusual step of holding the item for an individual vote by the board so that she could make a plea for cooperation.
“A year later, investigators have yet to charge anyone in this murder, however, surveillance footage released by the Sheriff’s Department shows several cars and pedestrians who passed by Susan Leeds’ car around 12:15 p.m., the time investigators believe she was killed,” Hahn said.
At least two people were detained and later released in connection with the investigation into Leeds’ killing.
One of the two, Cherie Townsend, was held for five days and has since sued the county, alleging false imprisonment, defamation, emotional distress, negligence and civil rights violations.
Townsend’s gold 2008 Chevrolet Malibu was parked on the same floor of the structure, according to sheriff’s officials. The District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges and asked sheriff’s officials to conduct additional investigation.
Last October, the sheriff’s department issued a statement saying their investigators were coordinating efforts with the District Attorney’s Major Crimes Unit.
“This has proven to be a very complex, yet active investigation,” the statement said. “Investigators are still receiving tips from the public and are diligently following up on each and every lead. With the lack of eyewitnesses in this case, the physical and forensic evidence collected is continually re-evaluated.”
Then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at a news conference last May that the motive for the crime was believed to be robbery, and that investigators believed the victim was “randomly chosen” and was not known by her killer.
Anyone who was at the mall between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on May 3, 2018, or who has additional information was asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).