The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $25,000 reward on Tuesday tied to last year’s fatal stabbing of a retired nurse in a parking structure at the Promenade at the Peninsula shopping center in Rolling Hills Estates.
Supervisor Janice Hahn, who chairs the panel, recommended the reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the killer or killers of 66-year-old Susan Leeds.
“Susan Leeds’ family and the entire (Palos Verdes) Peninsula community deserve answers,” Hahn said in a statement. “If you have any information about who may be responsible for this heinous crime, I urge you to speak to authorities.”
During Tuesday’s board meeting, Hahn said surveillance video shows several cars and pedestrians passing by Leeds’ car. Those drivers and pedestrians could have information about the case, she added.
Leeds was found dead in her Mercedes Benz SUV around 12:20 p.m. on May 3, 2018. The SUV was parked on the first floor of a parking structure at the Promenade on the Peninsula shopping mall. Authorities said she had been stabbed multiple times in the chest and her throat slashed.
The slaying shocked the community.
Investigators arrested Cherie Townsend on May 17. Then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell and other officials announced the arrest the next day. But within days, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Townsend and asked detectives to further investigate.
In October, Townsend, who was released from custody, sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County, Sheriff McDonnell, three other sheriff’s officials, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates and the cities’ mayors. The federal lawsuit alleges false arrest and improper imprisonment, unlawful search and seizure, a violation of due process, defamation, infliction of emotional distress and a negligent investigation.
Townsend said she went to the mall that day after taking her daughter to a friend’s home in the area, parked her Chevrolet Malibu on the same level of the parking structure where Leeds parked and lost her cellphone while shopping. After she was arrested, Townsend said, detectives asked her why she was at the mall in the first place and whether she could afford to shop in the affluent city.
On Feb. 15, court records show, the Sheriff’s Department was dismissed as a defendant in the case. On March 20, the court approved the defendant’s motion to delay the case for six months pending more work in the criminal investigation, according to court records.
Sheriff’s officials last year said the motive behind the killing was a robbery. It was unclear Tuesday if detectives still believe that: A homicide investigator could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Anyone with information about the killing is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.