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Melanie Ann Cunningham, 58

Melanie Ann Cunningham, a 58-year-old white woman, was pronounced dead on Monday, Dec. 17, after she was fatally stabbed in the 15600 block of South Frailey Avenue in East Compton, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records. 

Investigators were called to Cunningham's home after her longtime husband, Henry Cunningham, a 66-year-old black man, called the Los Angeles Police Department's Harbor Division to report he had stabbed his wife, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Det. Kevin Acebedo. 

Police officers took Henry into custody, and then called the sheriff's Homicide Bureau when they realized the case was in their jurisdiction, Acebedo said.

According to a news release from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, Cunningham and her 1-year-old granddaughter were asleep inside her bedroom when her husband grabbed a kitchen knife and slit her throat.

Henry Cunningham has been charged with one count of murder and one misdemeanor count of cruelty to a child by inflicting injury, according to the release. The child was not physically injured, Acebedo said; the charges stem from her being present during the crime. 

Investigators believe Melanie Cunningham was stabbed in the early morning hours, between 1 and 3 a.m., Acebedo said, but her body wasn't discovered until later in the morning, when her husband called a family member and the family member urged him to turn himself in.

Melanie Cunningham was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:18 a.m., according to coroner's records. The cause of death was listed as multiple sharp force injuries. 

The Cunninghams had been married for more than 30 years Acebedo said. Henry had stopped working because of a disability, he said, and received financial assistance from the state. Melanie worked as an in-home care nurse. 

Investigators are still trying to determine the motive for the attack, Acebedo said. There is no history of police calls to the home, or evidence of marital disputes. 

"Something occurred in the middle of the night, but we really still don't know why somebody like him, after all this time [of marriage], would up and do this all of a sudden," he said. "I wish we knew. It really is terrible."

Henry Cunningham pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on Dec. 19 and remained in jail in lieu of $2,020,000 bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 27 in Room SCD of the Los Angeles County Superior Court's Compton Courthouse. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. 

Do you have information to share about the life of Melanie Ann Cunningham? The Homicide Report needs your help. Please fill out this form or e-mail us at homicidereport@latimes.com.

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