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Homicide Victim Found Under Santa Monica Pier Was Not Homeless, Authorities Say


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By Jorge Casuso

September 24, 2018 -- A man whose body was found under the Santa Monica Pier early Thursday morning was not homeless but was sleeping there after an overnight fishing trip, according to his family.

But police are investigating whether the killing was tied to the beatings of three homeless men -- two of whom died -- between 4 and 5 a.m. earlier last week in Los Angeles , according to media reports.

The Santa Monica victim was identified Friday as 39-year-old Steven Ray Cruze Jr., who lived with his parents in San Gabriel, according to the City News Service.

Police said Cruze was homeless after his body was found at 6:41 a.m. with "an injury consistent with blunt force trauma to the head" ("Body of Homeless Man Found Under Santa Monica Pier Victim of Homicide," September 20, 2018).

But his aunt, Jennifer Smith, told City News that Cruz often slept in a hammock after overnight fishing trips in the Santa Monica area that lasted several days.

“He just goes down there and fishes," she was quoted as saying. “He’s a father. He lives with his parents.”

All four men attacked last week were sleeping outside and suffered blunt-force injuries.

The two homicide victims have not been identified pending notification of their families.

One was assaulted near Flower and 5th streets in Downtown Los Angeles' Financial District, the other, a 20-year-old, near Flower and Wilshire Boulevard.

The first died Tuesday morning, the second on Thursday, authorities said.

Police say the suspect used a baseball bat.

The suspect has been described as a white or Latino man in his 30s or 40s, of medium height and build, with black hair, according to City News.

He was last seen wearing a blue hat, gray sweatshirt, black shorts and bright white tennis shoes.

Police said he walked with a “distinctive gait” and could be bowlegged, according to news reports.

Anyone with information about the fatal assault at the Pier should call Detective Leone at (310) 458-8943, Detective Goodwin at (310) 458-8942, or the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8491.


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