In the wake of two homicides in Santa Monica within less than a week, Santa Monica police have stressed that the incidents are unrelated and they are reassuring residents that the city remains safe.
Alexander Merman, a 35-year-old artist and alumnus of Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester, was found dead inside his apartment in the 500 block of Montana Avenue in Santa Monica at about 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 19th, police said.
Merman appeared to have suffered blunt force trauma to the upper body, leading police to believe that he was the victim of a homicide, Santa Monica Lt. Alex Padilla said. It is unknown how long Merman had been dead before being discovered.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has conducted an autopsy on Merman and determined that he died from multiple stab wounds, said Craig Harvey, coroner spokesman.
Merman’s death came only three days after another apparent homicide victim, 21-year-old aspiring actress and model Juliana Redding, was found dead in her apartment in the 1500 block of Centinela Avenue in Santa Monica Sunday, March 16th. Redding’s death was the first homicide to occur in the city this year.
It is unknown how long Redding had been dead before she was discovered, but she was also found to have signs of trauma, Padilla said. Although the coroner’s office has conducted an autopsy on Redding, the Santa Monica Police Department has requested a security hold on the results pending its investigation of the case, Harvey said.
Police have not identified any suspects in either of the homicides.
While it is “coincidental” that the two crimes occurred only days apart, Padilla said there is nothing that leads investigators to believe that the incidents are related.
“They’re totally unrelated,” Padilla asserted. “There’s no remote connection. These are isolated acts of violence.”
There are some similarities in the two cases, which occurred approximately three miles from each other, but Padilla said there is no similarity in how the two victims were killed.
Both Merman and Redding are believed to have lived alone. In both cases, the victim’s mother was unable to reach her child by phone and contacted someone to check on the child’s well-being.
Merman’s mother had called her son’s apartment complex manager to check on him after she was unable to contact him by phone for several days. The manager went to Merman’s apartment, where he found the victim dead and then called police, Padilla said.
Redding’s mother had received calls from her daughter’s friends who were unable to get in touch with her by phone. After the mother was also unable to reach Redding by phone, she called police, who went to the victim’s apartment.
Redding had moved to Santa Monica from Tucson, Arizona to pursue an acting career.
According to Merman’s art Web site, sashas-illusions.com, he was born in Moscow and moved to the Los Angeles area with his mother in 1985. After serving with the U.S. Navy, Merman pursued an education in visual arts and he earned a Bachelor of Arts in illustration from Otis College in 1998, according to the Web site.
In response to any concerns the public may have regarding the recent homicides and a possible threat to the community, Padilla noted that the city “has enjoyed the lowest crime rate it has seen” in 50 years, one that continues to drop, and the city remains safe.
“Our message to those concerned is that Santa Monica is still a very safe community,” Padilla said.
Police are hoping that someone who noticed any suspicious activity related to either case can provide some additional information that could “shed some light” on the investigation, Padilla said.
Anyone with additional information regarding either incident is asked to contact Santa Monica Police Department detectives at (310) 458-8427. oCallers who wish to remain anonymous may also call the We-Tip national hotline at (800) 782-7463 (800-78-CRIME).