LA Forensics: Where There's Smoke...
After the successful series of search warrants, investigators had Kerry and Kacey Ephriam in custody, both charged with murder, but they didn't have their cousin, Blood gang member Michael Valentine. He was in the wind. Barron and his partner had a murder warrant issued for Valentine's arrest.
Not long after the arrest warrant was issued, uniform cops in South Central L.A. pulled over a Dodge Aries for a traffic violation. The driver turned out to be Michael Valentine. The cops, who were used to dealing with gang punks, threw a pair of handcuffs on Valentine and notified detectives they had collared the fugitive murder suspect.
When detectives searched Valentine's raggedy Dodge, they found a high-end German-made Blaupunkt stereo mounted in the dashboard. It was the same stereo that had been in Lon Kim's Mercedes.
"The radio was probably worth a third of the value of the car," Barron says.
But the Blaupunkt stereo and the Omega weren't the only things tying Valentine to the murder. Detectives also found a witness who linked him to the murder weapon.
The witness told investigators that when Michael dumped the Mercedes in Inglewood, Kasey was following him in the tan Oldsmobile. As the two men talked in the street for a few minutes, they stood protectively over the trunk of the Oldsmobile. Valentine was carrying a gun, which one the witness later described as "a cowboy-looking gun," meaning a revolver. The witness also overheard part of Michael and Kacey's conversation.
"Michael Valentine handed the gun to Kacey Ephriam and told him, 'Take him to a deserted area and to shoot him and set him on fire.'" Deputy District Attorney Michael Duarte says. "And that was approximately three to four hours before Lon Kim's body (was) found at the airport."
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