- Associated Press - Friday, May 18, 2018

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A woman is accused of robbing and fatally stabbing a fellow shopper inside her car in the parking lot of a busy Southern California shopping mall, sheriff’s officials said Friday.

Cherie Townsend, 39, of Victorville, was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the May 3 stabbing in the affluent community of Rolling Hills Estates, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

Investigators believe Townsend approached 66-year-old Susan Leeds and tried to rob her inside her Mercedes-Benz SUV before she fatally stabbed Leeds.

“We believe it was random and a crime of opportunity,” sheriff’s homicide Capt. Christopher Bergner said.

Leeds was “very kind, very sweet, very loving,” her stepson, Fred Leeds, said at a news conference Friday.

Family members said the victim was a diabetic who worked to educate others about diabetes.

Authorities said the stabbing happened midday and surveillance video showed several cars driving by and patrons walking past as the stabbing happened, officials said.

Bergner said detectives were still trying to determine whether there was a struggle during the robbery. He declined to say whether investigators have found the murder weapon.

Townsend was being held on $1 million bail. A telephone number listed for her in public records rang unanswered Friday.


Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 .

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