Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mom re-arrested in 2018 murder of nurse in Rolling Hills Estates mall parking garage

Prosecutors have filed murder and robbery charges against a woman who was previously arrested, then released, in connection with the killing of Susan Leeds, who was stabbed to death in the parking lot of the Peninsula Shopping Center in Rolling Hills Estates in 2018.

Cherie Townsend was arrested Aug. 17 by the LA County Sheriff’s Department and charged on Aug. 23, according to booking and court records. She was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detectives said they were unavailable this week to discuss the developments in the case, but sent a statement that suggested new evidence had been found to support the criminal charge.

“During the past five years, investigators have continued to conduct interviews, gather evidence, and analyze evidence which was presented to the LADA’s Office for filing consideration,” the Sheriff’s Department said.

The criminal complaint filed in court in Torrance accuses Townsend, 45, of first degree murder for Leeds’ homicide on May 3, 2018, and it includes an allegation that Townsend personally used a knife in the attack.

The complaint also charged her with with robbery, and she was scheduled to return to court in September to enter pleas to the charges.

Townsend has maintained her innocence since the first arrest, telling the I-Team in an interview that the only reason she was linked to the killing was because she accidentally dropped and left her cellphone in the parking lot of the mall close to the murder scene.

“I was arrested for a murder I didn’t commit,” she said. “It’s important for my story to be out, because I was wrongly accused.”

Townsend explained she visited the mall that day to go shopping after she’d dropped her daughter off for an event nearby.

After the LA County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges in 2018, Townsend filed a lawsuit against LA County that demanded the return of her car and other property seized by detectives, and said at the time she hoped to get an apology from the Sheriff’s Department. That case remains open.

Later in 2018, when asked to clarify the status of the case, the Sheriff’s Department did not say whether or not Townsend was still considered a suspect, and her name was not mentioned in a statement calling the case a “very complex, active investigation” that lacks witnesses.

About a year after the murder the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized a $25,000 reward for information on the case, and said detectives had made significant progress but were still searching for some key information.

Leeds’ family said in 2019 it had full confidence in the homicide detectives to find the person responsible for the crime.

“We know that the Sheriff’s Department is doing its best,” said Leeds’ stepson Fred. “We believe in the job they are doing, and we believe they’re doing everything humanly possible.”

“I knew Susie Leeds for 28 years,” he said. “She never had a mean word to say to anyone. She showed kindness to everyone, We greatly miss her, especially my father.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    %d bloggers like this: