- Associated Press - Monday, September 18, 2017

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A long investigation into the slaying of a prominent Southern California attorney now includes two more apparently professional hits possibly linked to business and legal disputes, authorities said.

Los Angeles County detectives suspect the involvement of Richard Wall, 64, but don’t think he carried out the three shootings, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday (https://lat.ms/2xsH7y6).

Wall, who ran a Whittier manufacturing business, hasn’t been charged and authorities declined to detail the evidence they have collected, saying they are continuing to investigate.

Officials believe he is in Montenegro, a European nation that has no extradition treaty with the U.S.

Wall’s attorney, Rickey Ivie, told the newspaper his client had no involvement in the deaths, which occurred several years apart beginning in 2008.

“He happened to have litigation with the people,” Ivie said. “That’s all. To me, that’s wholly inadequate.”

In addition to the attorney, those killed include a Las Vegas entrepreneur and a father slain in front of his children near Los Angeles.

All the killings appear to be professional hits, officials said.

The Las Vegas victim, David James “DJ” Vargas, was found inside his home on May 20, 2008, Metropolitan Police Det. Clifford Mogg said.

Vargas, 53, was self-employed. According to Mogg, he had been trying to start an escort and limo service - and owed Wall at least $100,000. The two men had a falling out over the debt, Mogg said, adding that there were similarities between Vargas’ death and the two that followed. The detective declined to elaborate.

The California attorney, Jeffrey Tidus, was shot in the back of the head outside his Rolling Hills Estates home on Dec. 7, 2009. He died a day later.

Among Tidus’ clients was a man who had won an $11 million judgment against a friend and business associate of Wall, a former tax attorney named Christopher Gruys.

During a pretrial deposition in 2005, Gruys took a photograph of Tidus, then made what the attorney interpreted as a threat, according to a declaration Tidus filed in court seeking a restraining order.

“I felt and continue to feel threatened by Mr. Gruys’ statements and conduct,” Tidus said in the declaration.

When Tidus’ client tried to collect on the judgment, he filed another suit against Gruys and Wall. The client alleged that Gruys was transferring money to Wall’s business to avoid paying what he owed, according to an appellate court decision in the case, which also mentioned that Gruys was the best man at Wall’s wedding.

Sheriff’s detectives previously said Gruys was not a suspect, in Tidus’ death.

Investigators said they have known for years that the killings were connected, but declined to say how. They said they focused on Wall as a suspect only recently.

Two of his employees were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy in May and jailed for five days before they were released due to a lack of evidence, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Det. Bob Kenney.

When asked about Wall’s whereabouts, Ivie declined to comment.

“He’s not a fugitive,” he said. “He hasn’t been charged with anything.”

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/


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