Puente Hills Mall Murders

The Victims

Jose Avina

Jose Avina was 22 years old when he was murdered on July 5, 1991. Jose was a construction worker who loved his "candy-apple red" 1987 Mistubishi Truck. The money he earned from his job went to customizing the truck including the wheels and large speakers. He loved the vehicle so much he cleaned it daily. (Monrovia News Post, July 11, 1991).

Augustine Ramirez

Augustine Ramirez was killed on August 3, 1991, after he and his wife closed their restaurant called the Magic Mushroom on Vallinda Ave in West Covina.

Willie Sams

Willie Sams was 41 years old when he was murdered on August 18, 1991. He was a family man who had been married to his wife Loretta for 21 years. His daughter had just gotten married. Sams had worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District in the maintenance department.

Elizabeth Nisbet

Elizabeth Nisbet was 49 years old when she was murdered on August 24, 1991. She had been married for almost 30 years and was busy in August planning her daughter's wedding. According to her son, Neil Nisbet Jr., she was known for helping people. He said, "When my friends were hurt they would come here to get patched up. She was everybody's mom." Over 100 people gave eulogies and remembrances of her in a memorial held at the Martin Luther Hospital in Anaheim where she had worked for 13 years. Her husband, Neil, had intended to spread her ashes in a cemetery where she was born and her parents were buried in Edinburgh, Scotland. Neil said she was "...solid as the rock of Gibraltar. The taking of this woman's life has left me totally empty...I still expect her to walk through the door at any second." (LA Times, Aug 31, 1997)

Shirley Denogean

Shirley Denogean was 56 years old when she was murdered on August 27, 1991. She had been married for five years to her husband Ray Denogean. She was working at a golf equipment manufacturing company. Her husband described her as, "...bubbly. She was cheerful and outgoing. She had a lot of dear friends. She loved to travel." Her neighbors said that it was common to work in her garden and that she was religious.

Eugene Valdez

Eugene Valdez was a 55 year old car salesman who was kidnapped by the Puente Hill Mall Murderers. They attempted to murder him but his life was saved when he jumped off a cliff at the Morris Dam.

Juan Rios & Sonia Aguirre

This couple survived a run in with the group after being kidnapped at a local ATM. They were held for a terrifying evening and were forced to withdraw money from different machines. They were left on the side of the road.

The Perpetrators

LA Times, September 23, 1991

Pure Victims

The concept of pure victims refers to the belief that some victims are better, or get more sympathy, from police and society. Often these victims, often because of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or behavior, receive more attention and at least in appearance more effort in their cases. These are people who are not to blame for their crimes, unlike people who society believes may have played a part in their own victimhood. For instance, drug use, poverty, hitchhiking, are often used against victims who have been murdered. These activities are seen as dangerous and therefore the victim in some must have, to use a phrase uttered far too often, "been asking for it."

In the Puente Mall Murders, several of the victims did not receive a lot of attention and only when the murders began happening in a common place, where a lot of people visited, the mall, did it receive media attention. (QUOTE HERE FROM SEAN)

Top: LA Times, September 23, 1991

Middle: LA TImes, August 31, 1991



Article about the crimes that highlights the increase of car theft at gun point in the 1990's and the fear surrounding the topic.

Monrovia-News Post,

July 11, 1991

Places of Interest

Samuel B. Morris Dam

Locally known as the Morris Dam, this is where Eugene Valdez was taken and an attempt on his life was made. He was able to jump off a cliff near the dam and tumbled down 150 feet. After the murderers drove away, he climbed to the top of the cliff and onto the road. He then flagged a passerby and was taken to safety.

Map to the Miller's Outpost

Progress Bulletin, May 26, 1977

Overlooking the City of West Covina

"The City of West Covina began the second-half of the 20th century with exciting new developments and projects. The City Hall and Police facility were built in 1969 as an example of a Joint Powers Authority in the County of Los Angeles. The Civic Center Joint Powers Authority, consisting of the County of Los Angeles and the City of West Covina, also completed a three-level parking structure in the Civic Center complex. The Civic Center complex includes the Los Angeles County Regional Library, the West Covina Courthouse (formerly Citrus Municipal Court) and the City Hall offices. " Taken from City of West Covina Website

Stuff We Mentioned

The Mall where Doc Brown was being chased by the terrorists in Back to the Future.

Right: The add from the LA Times for the movie Back to the Future.

LA Times, July 30, 1985

Works Cited

“Gag Order Issued in Mall Murder Case.” Monrovia News-Post, 22 Sept. 1991, pp. A1–A1. Newspaper.com.

“Indictments Return in Killing Spree.” Monrovia News-Post, 21 Nov. 1991, pp. A1–A1. Newspaper.com.

Pollock, Danny. “Deadly Twist: Cars Stolen at Gunpoint.” Monrovia News-Post, 11 July 1991, pp. B10–B11. Newspaper.com.

“Man Shot Standing in Front of Home.” Monrovia News-Post, 11 July 1991, pp. A1–A1. Newspaper.com.

Becklund, Laurie. “Rage and Alienation Mark Suspects in Mall Murders.” The Los Angeles Times, 22 Sept. 1991, pp. A1–A24. Newspaper.com.

Hetherman, Bill. “2 Charges Added for Mall Murder Defendant.” Monrovia News-Post, 29 Sept. 1991, pp. A1–A2. Newspaper.com.

Torres, Vicki. “L.A. County Robberry-Slayings of Man, 2 Women May Be Linked.” The Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 1991, pp. A3–A38. Newspaper.com.

Torres, Vivki. “Shoppers Keep Sharper Eyes Out for Danger.” The Los Angeles Times, 5 Sept. 1991, pp. J1–J6. Newspaper.com.

Torres, Vicki. “'Mall Murder' Suspects Face More Charges.” The Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 1991, pp. J1–J4. Newspaper.com.

Wilkinson, Tracy, and Vicki Torres. “4 Suspects Held in Slayings of 3 Shoppers.” The Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 1991, pp. A1–A28. Newspaper.com.

Banaski, Kelly. “Eileen Huber - California Mall Murders.” Woman Condemned, 3 Aug. 2014, www.thewomancondemned.com/2014/08/eileen-huber-california-mall-murders.html.

Banaski, Kelly. “Woman Condemned.” Woman Condemned, 19 May 2014, www.thewomancondemned.com/search?q=eileen%2Bhuber.

Day, Brian. “20 Years Later: Victim's Husband Recalls Puente Hills Mall Murders.” Whittier Daily News, Whittier Daily News, 19 Dec. 2019, www.whittierdailynews.com/2011/08/26/20-years-later-victims-husband-recalls-puente-hills-mall-murders-2/.

Torres, Vicki. “Death Term Ordered for Man in 'Mall Murders' : Crime: Three Others Are Sentenced to Life in Prison for 1991 Series of Kidnapings and Killings.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 4 Mar. 1993, www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1993-03-04-me-367-story.html.

“‘Wicked Attractions’ Rebels with a Deadly Cause.” IMDb, IMDb.com, 4 Aug. 2012, www.imdb.com/title/tt2320270/.

Butler, Olivia, director. "For My Man" Kayla Dixon/Eileen Huber. TV One, 9 Jan. 2019, tvone.tv/video/kayla-dixon-eileen-huber/.

“FindLaw's Supreme Court of California Case and Opinions.” Findlaw, caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-supreme-court/1387324.html.

Torres, Vicki. “Four Go On Trial in Series of 'Mall Murders.' Kidnappings.” The Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 1992, p. B3. Newspaper.com.

Torres, Vicki. “4 Convicted in Series of 'Mall Murders'.” The Los Angeles Times, 19 Dec. 1992, pp. A1–A35. Newspaper.com.

“5 Major Moments in Cellphone History | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 3 Apr. 2013, www.cbc.ca/news/technology/5-major-moments-in-cellphone-history-1.1407352.

Torres, Vicki. “Shoppers Keep Sharper Eyes Out for Danger.” The Los Angeles Times, 5 Sept. 1991, pp. J1–J6.

“Suspects: Rage, Alienation Mark Mall Murders.” The Los Angeles Times, 23 Sept. 1991, p. A23.

Katz, Jesse. “Unarmed Man Shot, Killed in Police Raid.” The Los Angeles Times, 3 Sept. 1991, pp. A3–A26. Newspaper.com.

“Two Police Officers Won't Face Trial in Shooting Death.” Monrovia News-Post, 27 June 1993, p. B9. Newspaper.com.

Torres, Vicki. “West Covina Officers Will Not Be Charged in Shooting Death : Investigation: Man Was Killed during a Raid. Report Concludes There Is Insufficient Evidence against the Two SWAT Members.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 25 June 1993, www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1993-06-25-me-6952-story.html.