Leimert Park is Grieving.
There was a triple homicide this week in our little neighborhood of Leimert Park in Los Angeles. The feeling here has changed. The children who walk to the school at the end of my block have not walked alone this week. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors have rearranged their morning schedules to either drive the children or accompany them on the bus ride and walk to school.
The Next Door App is flooded with condolences and remembrances of Philip White, age 62 , his mother Orsie Carter, age 77, and step-father William Carter, age 82 who were murdered inside Philip’s home on Bronson and 39th. Messages of concern poured out for Philip’s son who discovered them there.
We work hard here in Leimert Park to take care of ourselves and each other. We are trying to build this neighborhood. We’re all working on our homes, doing what we can to make Leimert Park as beautiful as can be.
On my way out of Leimert Park, I inevitably drive by the house on Bronson where candles and flowers now adorn the yard, many left by neighbors, some bouquets propped in the hedges, which I routinely saw a gentleman trimming meticulously so that no leaf was out of place. He was kind to my boys, waiving hello as we passed.
The gentlemen’s name has been alternatively listed in the press as Peter or Paul, but the neighbors seem to know him as Philip, so that’s what I will call him. He was a retired probation officer who formed an informal watch group to help keep the neighbors safe. While some report that Philip wasn’t disabled, others say that he was suffering from MS and had slowed considerably in recent months.
A woman has been arrested in connection with the murders. By some reports she was an old friend who had fallen down on her luck so Philip agreed to let her live with him for a few weeks before she moved to Vegas. Some say that in exchange, she was a sort of helper or caretaker for him. Others say she was a girlfriend. Maybe it was some combination of all three. Whatever the case, he was doing a kindness.
By all accounts, she had worn out her welcome and was refusing to leave. One friend said Philip told him he had handled it, they had come to an agreement and she was moving out. Some say his parents, who live just up the road in Baldwin Hills, drove down on Monday to help with the eviction process.
On Tuesday, when Philip’s mom’s Mercedes Benz had been parked at her son’s house overnight, a neighbor called the grandson to notify him that something was out of place. And this point can’t be stressed enough. The neighbor noticed the car. He knew whose car it was and how long it had been parked there. He knew it wasn’t usually there overnight. He had the name and number of a family member and he called him because that’s Leimert Park. The family member, Philip’s son, tried to get ahold of his father and his grandparents with no luck, so he drove over and peaked through the bathroom window where he saw their bodies. I won’t go into to detail here. Suffice it to say it was terrible.
My mother called the next day to see how I was doing, hoping I wasn’t too rattled. I tried to reassure her but, at the time they didn’t have anyone in custody, so I had to admit that the children were playing indoors and the alarm was turned on in the middle of the afternoon. It was strange to think that I drove by the home on my way to the Hollywood Bowl early Tuesday evening completely ignorant of the horror that laid inside. I over-cheerfully and sarcastically blurted out that other than that it was a normal day. But the news vans, heightened police presence and pit in my stomach reminded me that it was anything but. And now, to be honest, even though the woman is in custody, I am still on high alert because I don’t know if she acted alone.
I want to express my gratitude to the media for the kind news coverage and sympathy expressed for this family, an average black family in South LA. I also want to thank the neighbor who used the Next Door app to invite us all, known and strangers, over to his house for some cheering up, namely, to see the mural that he painted in his backyard which beautifully and simply reads, Leimert Park.
I am particularly grateful to the Los Angeles Police Department which has made us feel safe with their increased patrol and knowing, sympathetic nods. I know we don’t always see eye to eye, South LA and the LAPD, but the silver lining of unspeakable tragedy, is common ground – this I saw the clear mutual acknowledgement of our importance to each other – the acknowledgement of the humanity, cooperation and importance of the people of South LA and the acknowledgement of the protection, service and importance of the LAPD. I thank you.
There is a house for sale in Leimert Park – one of the large, beautiful, two-story homes on 6th Avenue. We were all hoping it would be the first home in Leimert Park to be sold at the million dollar mark. But now when you google Leimert Park the first thing that pops up is Triple Homicide. I hope it doesn’t discourage folks, because, for me, and I think I speak for my neighbors, the words Leimert Park spring to mind, beautiful tree-lined streets, rows of quintessentially LA cottages and friendly, careful, thoughtful, kind, concerned, friends and neighbors who notice when we are not home, who notice when a stranger is at our door, and who notice when our mother’s car has been parked out a little longer than normal. We think of home. My deepest sympathies to the family of Orsie Carter, William Carter and Philip White. My deepest sympathy to their friends, neighbors and our beloved neighborhood, Leimert Park.