- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. (AP) - A man charged with killing a Saudi Arabian college student stabbed him in order to steal a car the student was selling on Craigslist for more than $30,000, Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday.

Agustin Rosendo Fernandez, 28, of Long Beach, had the Audi when he was arrested last Thursday and made statements that led authorities to the body of 23-year-old Abdullah Abdullatif Alkadi, Beck said at a news conference.

Alkadi vanished on Sept. 17 from his home near California State University, Northridge, where he was studying electrical engineering. His body was found along Interstate 10 in Palm Desert, nearly 150 miles from his home.

Fernandez was charged Thursday with murder with special circumstances that the crime was committed during a robbery and hijacking, and an allegation that a knife was used.

Los Angeles County prosecutors haven’t decided whether to seek the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole.

Fernandez was ordered held without bail at a hearing Thursday but his arraignment was postponed until next month and it wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Beck said Alkadi put the Audi up for sale in mid-September through Craigslist. Fernandez talked to the student over several days about buying the car and the two met at Alkadi’s house, the chief said.

Alkadi was killed on Sept. 17 - the day he vanished - but the police chief declined to say where he was killed.

Fernandez killed the student “in an attempt to keep both the Audi and the purchase price,” the chief alleged.

At least two people initially were arrested. Only Fernandez was charged with a crime but the investigation continued, Beck said.

The police chief said it is “all too common” for people to be robbed when taking part in online sales.

Beck and City Councilman Mitch Englander offered safety suggestions, including taking someone along and meeting in a public place - even a bank or a police station - to conduct the sale.

Other suggestions for sellers: Never use your full name, address or phone number in online ads but instead use anonymized email provided by the websites; block out license plate numbers in ad photos for cars and make sure photos don’t show any family members or other identifiable information; Don’t give out your phone number to a prospective buyer. Instead, get that person’s number and call back, using caller ID blocking to conceal your number.

“Most importantly, if it feels wrong…you should leave the area or you should go report it to the Police Department,” Englander said.

Alkadi came from Khobar, Saudi Arabia, and was one of seven children. He had been in the United States since 2010, his brother, Ahmed Alkadi, 32, told the Los Angeles Daily News (https://bit.ly/1tFEVfY) on Sunday.

“He had a very promising future,” the brother said. “He wanted to have a good education in this country. … He wanted to make his family, his parents and himself proud.”

In his Twitter profile, Alkadi described himself as an “ambitious guy who’s looking to make (a) difference in the future.”

Ahmed Alkadi planned to take his brother’s body back to Saudi Arabia for burial.

“Regardless of any nationality and religion, he’s a human being, and he didn’t deserve to die,” he said. “He was a peaceful guy. Regardless of any barriers we have with language or religion, he’s a human being. I would like the public to pray for his soul to have peace in eternity.”

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