A woman who was arrested, but later released, in connection with the stabbing death of another woman at a Rolling Hills Estates mall demanded Wednesday that she be publicly exonerated and called for the return of her car, which has been impounded for more than a year.
“I’m angry. I’m disgusted about how the county is able to get away with what they’re doing to me,” Cherie Townsend told reporters at a downtown Los Angeles news conference with her attorney. “There’s a huge social injustice going on right now. I’m not going to let them get away with it. I’m not going to let them get away with ruining my life.
“I want justice. I want an apology. And I want my name restored, publicly,” she said. “It’s not going to change what happened to me. It’s not going to change what I’ve been through. It’s not going to change what I have to go through. It’s not going to change what my children have to endure. But it’s a start.”
Townsend was arrested and held for five days in connection with the May 3, 2018, killing of Susan Leeds. The 66-year-old retired nurse was found with her throat cut and several stab wounds to her chest inside 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.
Then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell said after the killing that the motive for the crime was believed to be robbery, and investigators believed the victim was “randomly chosen” and was not known by her killer.
Following Townsend’s arrest in mid-May of last year, sheriff’s officials said Townsend’s car, a gold 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, had been parked on the same floor and “physical evidence” pointed to her as a suspect, although they did not elaborate.
Five days later, the District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Townsend, and she was released from custody. Townsend later sued the county alleging defamation, false arrest and civil-rights violations.
No other arrests have been made in the case since. The county is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.
“This has proven to be a very complex, yet active investigation,” according to a sheriff’s department statement issued last year when Townsend began her legal action. “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.”
Anyone who has information about the crime was asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).