Police are on the hunt for David Ben Keyes, a musician from Santa Barbara who has been missing for weeks. Keyes has been named a "person of interest" in the stabbing attacks of three homeless people in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, Calif.
The victims, two men and one woman, were all stabbed as they slept on the streets. All three victims survived the stabbings.
Chilling notes described as typed and signed "death warrants" were left at the scene of all three assaults, reports the Los Angeles Times. The notes have led police from Santa Monica and Los Angeles to believe the three attacks are related.
The initial stabbing occurred July 4, and it was first reported by the Times. A 56-year-old homeless man was found near the corner of 3rd and Main Streets with a large hunting knife sticking out of his back.
Another homeless man, in his late 50s, was stabbed Tuesday at 5:43 a.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard near 2nd Street. Santa Monica police said they received a call from a passerby who had come across the victim asking for help. Police were able to recover a large knife that had been used in the stabbing, and the victim was treated at a local hospital.
The most recent attack occurred Thursday. A 54-year-old woman was stabbed in the back as she slept near La Brea and De Longpre Avenues, and police again found both the knife used in the attack and a "death warrant" notice, reports the Times.
Police released a photo of Keyes and are asking for the public to call authorities if they come across him.On his Facebook and Reverb Nation profiles, Keyes calls himself as a musician and writer, as well as CEO/CFO of David Ben Keyes Industries. His "about" section on Facebook contains this description:
orthodox/ Grand Inquisitor 17 Pope XVII Holy Roman Catholic Church & Empire - David Ben Keyes corporation $250 billion dollar Beverly Hills defense contract and Entertainment Company in Beverly Hills and Hollywood Studios in the private sector currently being funded.
Profile photos show him posing with a camping backpack and tent. In some photos, he is posing with a gun, and in one shot he's holding a large knife.
A tweet from last Sunday reveals his "current agenda":
David current agenda:Re-structure the Holy Roman Catholic Church into a military tribunal & draftin letters&press releases in Santa Barbara
— David Ben Keyes Corp (@CorpDks) July 15, 2012
A 2010 report from the National Coalition for the Homeless revealed that 113 homeless men and women were attacked nationwide that year -- two dozen fatally -- reports the OC Register.
In January of this year, former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo was arrested for allegedly slaying four homeless people in Orange County. In the weeks before Ocampo's capture, demand for beds at shelters skyrocketed as frightened homeless residents sought protection from a suspected serial killer. Ocampo has been charged with those four murders as well as the murders of a friend's brother and mother, and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
UPDATE: In a press conference Thursday night, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith warned homeless people in the Los Angeles area to avoid sleeping alone in the streets until authorities apprehend a suspect.
"Any homeless person sleeping anywhere outside is vulnerable tonight –- more vulnerable than usual," Smith said.
Smith also told gathered press that all three "death warrant" notes were signed "David Ben Keyes." For now, police only want to bring Keyes in for questioning, as it's unclear if the signatures belong to the actual assault suspect.
Homicide Division Capt. Billy Hayes said it was too soon to know if July's homeless stabbings are linked to the four stabbing deaths of homeless people from Dec. 2011 - Jan. 2012, reports the Associated Press. Former marine Itzcoatl Ocampo has been charged with those murders.
Photos from Keyes' Facebook profile.