A 38-year-old man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murdering his mother and his uncle at a house in Sylmar last month.
Marcel Ianyves Gradvohl is charged with killing his 67-year-old mother, Maureen Rose Gradvohl, and his 58-year-old uncle, Edward Henry Steckel, between Nov. 26 and Nov. 28.
The criminal complaint alleges that Gradvohl used a rope in the commission of his mother’s killing and a handgun during his uncle’s killing.
Gradvohl’s mother was strangled, while Steckel was shot in the head, according to records from the coroner’s office.
Gradvohl contacted police last month to report that his mother had committed suicide, Los Angeles Police Lt. Chris Ruiz told the Los Angeles Daily News, noting that detectives suspected the death had been staged.
“The information and the story as presented to the initial officers was not consistent with the injuries they observed at the crime scene,” Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton told CBS2.
Detectives subsequently found Steckel’s body buried in the backyard.
“Prior to the staged suicide, our suspect had engaged in a confrontation with another family member, committed a murder and then attempted to conceal the body by burying it in the backyard,” the deputy chief told CBS2, lauding patrol officers and detectives for their work on the case. “You would have had a double-murderer who had a financial motive to commit this murder escaping and getting away with it all.”
Gradvohl allegedly confessed to committing the killings for a life-insurance settlement, CBS2 reported.
Gradvohl — who was arrested Nov. 28 by the LAPD’s Valley Bureau — remains jailed in lieu of $4 million bail.
He is due back in a San Fernando courtroom Feb. 3, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial.