Los Angeles, California - A former Norwalk man suspected by detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department of raping and murdering his disabled neighbor was arrested Thursday following a joint fugitive investigation in Los Angeles and Central America, announced Bill Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and Sheriff Jim McDonnell of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD).
Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 22, a former resident of Norwalk and Guatemalan national, was arrested in Guatemala Thursday following a joint investigation among detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles; and the FBI’s Transnaitonal Anti-Gang Task Force (TAG) in Guatemala.
According to a federal criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, detectives with the LASD reponded to the Norwalk home of Denise Battey, 51, on August 10, 2012, and determined that she had been sexually assaulted and murdered during the commission of a burglary. LASD detectives identified Diofron as the suspect and determined that he initially fled to Tijuana, Mexico, where he had resided prior to emigrating to the United States. On September 18, 2012, LASD detectives obtained a no-bail arrest warrant for Diofron after he was charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office (LACDA) with Battey’s murder, to include the special circumstances of rape and burglary. When detectives determined that Diofron had fled the country in 2012, the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles was asked to assist in locating and returning him to the United States for prosection by the LACDA. On December 2, 2013, a provisional arrest warrant for Diofron’s arrest had been issued in Guatemala, where he was believed to be residing at the time. On August 13, 2014, Diofron was charged in the federal criminal complaint with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP).
Diofron’s specific location in Guatemala was unknown until TAG investigators developed a lead generated when his photograph was featured by a local media outlet.
TAG members arrested Diofron Thursday at a residence in San Miguel, Escuintla, Guatemala. Diofron was transferred to Guatemala City and is being held in the Preventivo Para Los Hombres awaiting extradition proceedings.
The TAG in Guatemala is assigned to the FBI’s Legal Attaché in San Salvador and is composed of FBI agents and police officers with the Guatemala National Civil Police. The FBI’s Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles is composed of agents and officers with the FBI; the Los Angeles Police Department; and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department continue to investigate the murder and rape of the victim.
The FBI continues to work with local law enforcement to apprehend violent criminals charged with state crimes who then flee the jurisdiction interstate or internationally. Photos and descriptions of many fugitives wanted by the FBI can be found at www.fbi.gov.