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Police have made an arrest in the murder of Elena Ledford, a 49-year-old Glendale mother who worked at a nonprofit that helps people experiencing homelessness.
The L.A. district attorney’s office has charged 26-year-old Adrian Robert Casey with the murder. Investigators believe Ledford was stabbed multiple times in a parking lot at La Cañada High School, then moved across the street to Hahamonga Watershed Park in Pasadena, where a jogger found her body just before 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Ledford worked at Union Station Homeless Services, a nonprofit founded in 1973 to help unhoused individuals and families in the San Gabriel Valley get back on their feet. Co-workers told the L.A. Times that Ledford frequently visited homeless encampments to care for people and that she’d recently been helping unhoused individuals get tested for COVID-19.
In a statement, the organization wrote: “We are shocked and devastated by the sudden and tragic death of Elena Ledford, who worked for Union Station for the past three years. Elena was more than a beloved employee and coworker, she was a member of our Union Station Family. We are thankful for the support of law enforcement agencies in their investigation of Elena’s death. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Ledford family for this unfathomable loss, and we are thinking of Elena’s parents, daughter, sister, and her friends and family during this terrible time.”
Ledford’s colleagues have started a GoFundMe to raise money on behalf of Ledford’s 14-year-old daughter. So far, it has collected nearly $30,000.
According to the Pasadena Police Department, after Ledford’s murder, Casey left California and was arrested in New Mexico, where he remains awaiting extradition. Pasadena police who went to New Mexico shortly after Casey was apprehended said they found the murder weapon and other evidence there. Investigators also said Casey and Ledford knew one another, but it’s not yet clear how.
Police did not reveal details about Casey’s criminal record. However, a Whittier Daily News article from 2015 reports that a then 21-year-old Casey was arrested on suspicion of burglary and negligently discharging a firearm after breaking into the home of a relative who had a restraining order against him. Though no one was home at the time, neighbors called 911 after they heard gunshots coming from inside the house. The arrest came after a seven-hour standoff with deputies.