LA Forensics: Where There's Smoke...
The Mercedes and the Blaupunkt
Lon Kim's Mercedes had been missing since his disappearance. Uniform cops found it several days later, abandoned on a street in Inglewood. They had it towed to SID.
"When we (got) the vehicle it was totally stripped," says SID's Scott Hurwitz. "The radio was missing, the interior was all torn up, and a lot of parts were stolen out of it."
The missing stereo was an expensive German-made Blaupunkt.
The police had found the Mercedes four blocks from the residence of the man who had pawned Lon's Omega watch, Michael Valentine.
"Michael Valentine was a big badass," Detective Barron says. "He had history of robberies, was a known gangster, in and out (of jail), involved in crime all the time."
Valentine was a member of the Bloods, the smaller though many experts say the more violent of the two huge, mostly-black, L.A. street gangs. The other gang was the Crips. Kerry Ephriam had connections to the Crips, although as far as investigators could tell, he wasn't a full-fledged member.
In the late 1980s, the urban guerilla war between the Bloods and the Crips raged across Los Angeles. The two gangs were mortal enemies, yet Michael Valentine and Kerry Ephriam appeared to be linked to the same murder. What was their connection?
The answer would surprise the detectives and provide a crucial clue to who killed Lon Kim and why.
Watch this story and many others from the case files of the LAPD's Scientific Investigation Division, which solves crimes using cutting edge forensics. Only on Court TV. Learn more.