- Friday June 1st, 2012 :: 02:47 p.m. PDT
Death Investigation Update #2 - Suspect in Custody [PHOTO]
Benjamin Johnson, a 20 year-old Downey resident, was arrested early Wednesday morning for the theft of Miguel Santamaria’s car, dog and other property. Santamaria was found dead on 05/21/12 in his apartment in the 1600 block of Amberwood Dr. in the City of South Pasadena. Preliminary information received from the LA County Coroner's Office indicated Santamaria's death was the result of natural causes; however, Santamaria's car, dog, wallet, and laptop computers were missing. Santamaria's vehicle, a green 2001 Honda Civic was entered into a nationwide database as a stolen vehicle.
On Wednesday, May 30th, at about 1:00 a.m., officers from the Downey Police Department located Santamaria's car in the parking lot of a motel in the 9400 block of Firestone Blvd. in the City of Downey. Downey officers established a surveillance of the vehicle and motel until South Pasadena PD detectives arrived. When the car did not leave the motel, SPPD detectives contacted the desk clerk and determined the car had been listed on the registration card for a room rented by a male and female.
SPPD detectives eventually contacted both the male and female subjects and subsequently arrested Johnson for receiving stolen property related to the theft of Santamaria's car and several of his credit cards. The female was determined not to be involved and was released.
Johnson was brought to the station and interviewed. During the interview, Johnson confessed to corresponding with Santamaria via Craigslist and they arranged to meet. Santamaria picked up Johnson on Thursday, 05/17/12, and took Johnson back to his Amberwood Dr. apartment. Sometime during Johnson’s visit, Santamaria died of what is currently believed to be natural causes. Johnson left the apartment, taking Santamaria’s car, dog, wallet and computers. He later discarded the computers and released the dog in Downey. The dog was picked up by the local Humane Society.
The investigation by both the SPPD and LASD Homicide Bureau continues, but no additional charges against Johnson related to Santamaria's death are anticipated at this time. Johnson is currently being held on $35,000 bail and was transported to Alhambra Superior Court this morning for his arraignment.
South Pasadena Police Department
1422 Mission St
South Pasadena, CA 91030