- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 25 (UPI) — A potential killer may be on the loose on the west side of Los Angeles where police found a car belonging to a missing Santa Monica woman who vanished this month while on her way to meet a photographer who had claimed to be casting a movie.

A valet parking attendant at the St. Regis Hotel in Century City told police that the man who gave him the keys to 21-year-old Kristine Johnson's white Miata convertible Sunday closely matched a composite sketch of a male who allegedly tried to hire another woman to pose for photos but ran off when her boyfriend showed up with her.

"It is our belief that he frequents the Century City Mall and approaches females who are shopping there with offers to audition for photo shoots," Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts told a news conference where it was announced that Johnson's car had been located and a composite sketch of the possible suspect, a Caucasian male in his 30s, was released.

Johnson, described as 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes, was last seen Feb. 15 when she left her Santa Monica home after telling her roommate she was off to Beverly Hills to meet a photographer who she had met at the mall in nearby Century City. She told her roommate the photographer was involved in a movie production and wanted to photograph her.

Johnson worked as a data-entry operator but according to published reports, had aspired to be associated with the film business.

The next morning, a man matching the photographer's description left Johnson's vehicle at the St. Regis in Century City, an upscale high-rise enclave of Los Angeles in the vicinity of Beverly Hills.

According to the valet, when he approached the man to inform him that the area was limited to valet-only parking, he gave him the keys to Johnson's car and left the area.

The story relayed to police by Johnson's roommate was similar to one told to police last week by a woman who said she had a close call with a supposed film-industry photographer.

Butts said the woman reported a man had approached her at the Century City Mall in late January and asked her to pose for photos.

"This witness said that the subject in this composite stated that he wished to photograph her in a photo shoot related to a specific movie production," the chief said. "This was the same movie production that Ms. Johnson stated (to her roommate) she was going to audition for."

The first woman met with the photographer at an agreed upon corner in West Hollywood, Butts said, at which time he insisted "in an aggressive manner" that she accompany him to an undisclosed location.

The woman, however, had brought her boyfriend, a former law enforcement officer, who got out of their car and demanded that the photographer identify himself. At that point, the man tried to run off, but was chased down by the boyfriend who frisked him but could not find any identification. The suspect has not been seen since.

The suspect was described as a tall, thin white male in his 30s who wore a dark suit. Butts asked that anyone who recognized the sketch or had been solicited by the suspect to call the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8449.

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