Death, mystery and flowers fill a corner of Debs Park

Flower at Debs Park murder scene

El SERENO —  The grassy clearing surrounded by shaggy pepper and eucalyptus  trees would make for an ideal spot to take a break from a walk through Debs Park.  But on Wednesday, this clearing became a crime scene after the bodies of two women were discovered  next to a shallow ravine.  Two flower-covered crosses, candles and stuffed animals have been set up off a hiking trail as police and the public try to figure out what happened to 19-year-old Gabriela Calzada and another woman identified by friends as 17-year-old Briana Gallegos.

Homicide investigators have not publicly provided much details about the case, with some hesitating to call it a murder.  Jose Ramirez, head of the homicide unit at the LAPD Hollenbeck Division, said  detectives are  once again interviewing people this weekend who knew the two women. The county coroner is scheduled to perform an autopsy on Calzada  on Sunday to determined the cause of death, he said.

Here’s a run down of what’s been reported about the incident:

  • A woman walking her dog discovered the bodies at about 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28 in the southern edge of Debs Park off of Boundary Avenue near the playing fields at Rose Hill Park.
  • One officer  told The Eastsider that the women’s faces showed possible signs of blunt force trauma while another told a community leader that the women had been beaten beyond recognition.
  • Police said the women, who were fully clothed and did not appear to be sexually assaulted, are believed to have been killed in the park not very long before they were found. ABC7
  • The women apparently knew each other and were friends on Facebook. Gallegos attended Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park; Calzada, who was from Pico Rivera, according to her Facebook page,  was reported missing Wednesday night after the bodies had already been found. KTLA
  • An online fundraiser has been set up for Gallegos. Go Fund Me
  • Police have added foot patrols to the park. No suspects have been identified or arrests made. KPCC
  • The deaths are not believed to be connected to a man who  groped two women in a different section of the park last year. L.A. Times
  • Detectives at the LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division said the Debs Park deaths do not appear to be connected to the unsolved murders of two Lincoln Heights women in April 2011 and January 2012. KTLA

Flower at Debs Park murder scene

Flower at Debs Park murder scene

Flower at Debs Park murder scennote

Flower at Debs Park murder scene

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  1. Thank you for the updates. This is incredibly sad, and very scary.

  2. So sad :<

    I hope the investigators have some leads.

  3. So very sad, I read that the 17 years old was pregnant and that the 19 years old was hanging out with the wrong people. Whoever did that must pay!

  4. Three things:

    1. Why the hesitation to classify them as homicides? This is why there is a trust issue between the law enforcement authorities and the general public. One cop says there appears to be blunt trauma, while another says they were beaten beyond recognition… while yet someone else is is reluctant to call it homicide.

    2. While I appreciate the reporting on this story, TheEastsider, I think pictures of the personal message might have been a bit too intrusive. I know this is in a public place for all to see, but the relationships these young women had were not. The pictures of the flowers were enough to paint a picture of the crime scene as it is now. No need for the personal message from what appears to be a boyfriend (by the usage of the word “babe”). So again, while I do appreciate the coverage, since nobody else in the media seems to think that young latina lives are worth reporting on, let’s give these people some privacy.

    3. The police aren’t willing to reveal much info, yet are comfortable enough to announce that they don’t believe these murders are related to the two kidnap/murders from a couple of years or the three incidents in the park from last year. Huh.

    May these women rest in peace… and their stories have some media attention so that this murderer gets identified and captured.

    • FYI: police deliberately don’t release info so suspects can’t know if they’re closing in on them. Another reason is to cross off potential suspects that only the real killer would know. It’s a pretty well known tactic. Quit being so judgemental about police work when you don’t even know the facts.

  5. Funny how my criticism only comes from exactly that, the police not providing facts. Maybe the police should share some basic information so that the people of NELA know what’s going on? You know, so that our families aren’t in harms way. Or is that too much to ask for these days? How about including the public so that they can maybe provide information? Or how about they get the media involved and use the power of the internet to spread the word? But yeah, let’s keep this murder of two young latinas on the hush hush, because tactics. Thanks but no thanks, Sean.

    • @HollywoodRoyalty And how about you up your street smarts game and have that talk with your family while you’re at it, knowing there may indeed be someone out there targeting others as is common in metro cities — and let the police solve the case.

  6. Justice and Peace Community Memorial Vigil & Procession for Gabriela Calzada and Briana Gallegos.
    Honoring the lives of women ‪#‎NIUNAMAS‬
    Thursday, November 5th, 2015

  7. I assume the police showed the composite sketch of the man who was assaulting women in 2014 (on the Griffin side of the park) to the woman who saw a man with a backpack on the day the two young women’s bodies were found. Dear journalist on this story…. Good job! I hope you are following up. Please help the public figure out what we need to worry about. For instance, if Gabriela Calzada was shot at the scene, then wouldn’t gunshots have been heard? What about the women who were victims of the 2014 assailant…. maybe a worthwhile story is how they were treated by the police.

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