Husband of Catholic Bishop David O’Connell’s housekeeper accused of killing him

Husband of Catholic Bishop David O’Connell’s housekeeper accused of killing him

The husband of a housekeeper for the Catholic bishop found shot to death over the weekend in his Hacienda Heights home was arrested for the slaying on Monday, Feb. 20, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.

A tipster had told authorities that the suspect, Carlos Medina, who had also previously worked for Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell in some capacity, had been behaving oddly and claimed the bishop owed him money, the sheriff said.

Further, a dark-colored compact SUV similar to the one driven by the housekeeper had been seen in surveillance video pulling into the driveway of O’Connell’s home on Saturday, the sheriff said.

After that SUV, which looks like the housekeeper’s, came and went another clergy member checked on O’Connell because he had missed a meeting that day and discovered the body in a bedroom, Luna said. O’Connell had been shot at least once in the upper body.

Investigators received that tip about Medina at about 7 p.m. Sunday. The sheriff said the suspect is 65, although jail records for a Carlos Medina say he is 61.

“Detectives were told by the tipster that they were concerned because Medina was acting strange, irrational and made comments about the bishop owing him money,” Luna said.

Hours later, at about midnight, investigators showed up at Medina’s home in the 20400 block of Kenwood Avenue in unincorporated West Carson near Torrance.

He wasn’t there initially. Investigators were told that Medina had fled to the Central Valley, Luna said. But a few hours later on Monday, the sheriff said, investigators were alerted that he had returned.

They tried to talk with him but he would not come out. At 8:15 a.m., he finally came out and was arrested.

Inside, Luna said, investigators, armed with search warrants, found two firearms that will be tested to determine whether they were used to kill O’Connell.

Luna said no motive had been determined for the slaying. He said he didn’t know whether O’Connell actually owed Medina money and didn’t say what sort of work Medina did for O’Connell or when.

Luna said there were no signs that someone forced his way into the home. The suspect’s wife was cooperating with authorities, the sheriff said.

Luna said he didn’t know the bishop, but calls had poured into him, so he knew how important he was to so many.

“He was loved,” Luna said. “He was a pillar of our community.”

By midmorning, after the arrest, many residents on the street were hanging out in their front yards, watching investigators go about their work.

Neighbor Luis Lopez, who along with his son was evacuated during the barriade, said Medina’s wife is a devout Catholic. Lopez said she helped O’Connell with household chores, often taking care of his dog.

“She was a wonderful woman, all about God,” he said.

The suspect had quirks. He would constantly wash his car, even in the rain, said the son, Adrian Lopez. He never showed a hint of violence.

“He was a good man, your average older man, always talkative,” Luis Lopez said.

Marty Hernandez also lives near where the standoff occurred.

“I’m just shocked and overwhelmed,” Hernandez said. “You wouldn’t know that you have somebody that lives next to your house that would do such a thing.”

Hernandez said Medina digs in his yard and stays up very late at night.

“He always seemed like an odd person,” Hernandez said. “Always on the go, in a rush, and digging stuff.”

Deputies towed a blue Honda SUV from the suspect’s driveway at 10:45 a.m., and then dismantled the police tape blocking off the street.

The suspect’s yard was cluttered: Pipes, bikes, buckets, tools, and potted plants. The blinds were drawn shut.

More deputies arrived around 11:30 a.m. to put up police tape again, but just around the perimeter of the suspect’s house.

Nationally recognized among Catholic leaders, O’Connell had a prominent role in administering the church’s message and managing resources in the San Gabriel Valley, reporting to the archbishop.

O’Connell was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in 2015.

O’Connell, who ministered at his South L.A. church for decades, and who in recent years had been praised for his work supporting undocumented immigrants, was found dead by his fellow clergyman at around 1 p.m. on Saturday at his home in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue.

News of his death shocked members of L.A.’s Catholic community. Many described O’Connell as a “peacemaker” who attempted to heal divides in the city following the aftermath of the 1992 L.A. riots.

LA County officials, religious leaders react to death of LA Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell

Friends and congregants of his church said they couldn’t believe O’Connell would be targeted with violence.

At Monday’s press conference in downtown Los Angeles, when the sheriff updated the public on the investigation, the Rev.  Jose H. Gomez, the archbishop of Los Angeles, noted  that O’Connell possessed the unusual combination of fluency in Spanish with an Irish accent.

“Every day he worked to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrants and to all those living on society’s margins,” Gomez said.

As Gomez thanked the Sheriff’s Department, he choked up and paused. Luna walked up to Gomez and put his hands on the cleric’s shoulders, giving them a light squeeze.

“You’re good. You’re good,” Luna told him. “God’s with you. God’s with you.”

Gomez continued:

“Please, let’s keep praying for Bishop Dave and his family, and let’s keep praying for our law-enforcement officials as they continue their investigation.”

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Staff writers Ruby Gonzales and Nathaniel Percy contributed to this report.


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