Los Angeles: On April 10, 2004, the body of Leah Deshay Benjamin, 38-years-old, was discovered in an alley behind the 10600 block of South Manhattan Place. Benjamin’s death was attributed to blunt force trauma to her head and the apparent motive was believed to be of a sexual nature.
Although an extensive investigation was conducted, no viable suspect(s) were identified during the original investigation and the case remained unsolved.
In 2014, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department, Robbery-Homicide Division, Homicide Special Section, received notification from the California Department of Justice that a match was found between the DNA profile obtained from the original evidence and an offender profile. The profile offender was identified as Jaqwun Laerin Turner.
It was determined that Turner’s DNA was collected in connection with his arrest by the Santa Ana Police Department on January 29, 2014, for Felony Hit and Run. On December 8, 2013, the body of Martha Rodenza was discovered on the northbound Interstate 5 Freeway at the westbound State Route 22 Freeway. It was revealed Rodenza was picked up by Turner at a gas station in San Juan Capistrano while he was working as a fuel delivery driver. For an unexplained reason, Rodenza jumped from the cab of Turner’s truck to her death. Turner subsequently pled guilty to one count of Felony Hit and Run Causing Injury or Death, and was sentenced to one year county jail under Orange County Superior Court Case No. 14CF0239. Turner began serving his sentence in February of 2015.
A background check of Turner revealed he had lived in close proximity to where the body of Leah Benjamin was discovered.
In April of 2015, Robbery-Homicide Division detectives along with members of the Scientific Investigation Division conducted a search of the location where Turner had once lived. Although the property had been sold in 2005, the location searched was unchanged. As a result of the search, DNA evidence matching victim Benjamin was recovered.
On June 11, 2015, the investigation was presented to the Sex Crimes Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Jaqwun Laerin Turner was charged with Murder in the commission of a Rape.
Turner is scheduled to be transported from Orange County Jail, and arraigned in the Los Angeles Superior Court on June 24, 2015.
Anyone with information regarding this crime is urged to call LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division, Homicide Special Section, Detectives Dan Myers or Greg Stearns at (213) 486-6890. During off hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour toll free number 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text “Crimes” with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on the web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD.” Tipsters may remain anonymous.