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Edwinta Hereford, 19 [Updated]

Edwinta Charlesett Hereford (2010-05-16)

Edwinta Hereford, a 19-year-old black woman, was found dead Sunday May 16, on the 105 Freeway near Garfield Avenue in Paramount, according to authorities.

Authorities said Hereford had been pushed from a speeding car moving east on the 105. Her body was found about 6 a.m. Sunday.

Sheriff's homicide investigators, who could not immediately identify her, had asked for the public's help, describing a distinctive tattoo on her back that read "Kenaya Faith Morgan."

Her body was discovered by a driver on the freeway, said Det. Phil Martinez, who is handling the homicide investigation. The passerby "saw small feet" and pulled over to see if it was a child.

Several others drivers also pulled over and called the authorities, Martinez said. When asked how long Hereford's body had been on the freeway, Martinez said evidence suggested that her body was discovered within an hour of being thrown from the vehicle.

Coroner's officials said Monday that they had not yet determined whether Hereford was killed when she was thrown from the vehicle or was killed elsewhere and her body left on the roadway. An autopsy is pending and is expected to be completed no later than Tuesday.

Anyone with information about Hereford's death is asked to contact L.A. County sheriff's homicide detectives Martinez and Sylvia Brossoit at (323) 890-5500.

[Update July 13: The Homicide Report has received several e-mails and comments from readers suggesting there may be a connection between Hereford’s death and the serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper. Los Angeles police arrested Lonnie David Franklin Jr., a 57-year-old black man, on July 7. He has been charged in the deaths of 10 women.

The Times contacted Det. Martinez to see whether investigators have considered the possibility that Hereford's death is somehow connected to the string of killings that have terrorized South L.A. over the last 25 years. Hereford was last seen at Snappy’s Liquor near Imperial Highway and Normandie Avenue in the Westmont area of unincorporated South Los Angeles, placing her in the same general area where the other killings took place.

Martinez said Tuesday that the sheriff's homicide bureau has yet to confer with the LAPD about Hereford's homicide case. Asked if it could be connected to the Grim Sleeper killings, Martinez said they have not yet “ruled it in or out.”

Investigators continue to follow leads in Hereford’s case, Martinez said, and are actively searching for more information about the circumstances leading to her death.

The L.A. County coroner's office did not to provide information on the case because a security hold has been placed on it.]

-- Sarah Ardalani

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