La Jolla crime and public safety news: Fire investigation, attempted-kidnapping case, coronavirus, more

Fire destroyed a home in the 2500 block of Caminito La Paz in La Jolla on Aug. 10.
Fire destroyed a home in the 2500 block of Caminito La Paz in La Jolla on Aug. 10. Two bodies were found inside.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Investigation completed into fatal La Jolla fire

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s Metro Arson Strike Team, in conjunction with the San Diego Police Department, has completed its investigation into a house fire that killed an 80-year-old man and a 9-year-old girl in La Jolla in August, finding that the blaze was an accident caused when a man added kerosene to a rag to stoke a fireplace fire.

The fire took place early Aug. 10 at a two-story house in the 2500 block of Caminito La Paz, a dead-end street off Hidden Valley Road south of La Jolla Parkway. The San Diego County medical examiner’s office identified those killed as Robert Keefe, 80, and Angie Keefe, 9, his granddaughter.

At the time, the medical examiner said “[Angie’s] father was downstairs smoking by the fireplace while she and her sister were asleep in an upstairs bedroom. The ... father said he poured kerosene on a T-shirt and burned it in the fireplace, then fell asleep. He was awoken at approximately 3:40 [a.m.], when the fire spread to the living room. He attempted to put out the fire but was unsuccessful.”

The “T-shirt” was actually a rag used to add more kerosene to the dying fire, said MAST Sgt. Rick Pechin, who added that investigations of this nature are standard to make sure nothing contradicts what officials were told at the scene. He also said the man had not fallen asleep but that the fire appears to have spread when he added more ignition fluid to the fire.

“Just like you would add lighter fluid to a campfire as it starts to go out, that’s what the [man] did. As he was pouring the igniter fluid, it looks like some got on the carpet and that allowed the fire to jump,” Pechin said.

The windows were open that night, which provided plenty of oxygen for the fire. “He made attempts to put it out, but the fire got out of control too fast,” Pechin said.

Attempted-kidnapping suspect ordered to have psychiatric exam

Criminal proceedings were suspended Oct. 29 in a La Jolla attempted-kidnapping case until after the defendant undergoes a psychiatric exam in jail.

Attorney Damian Lowe, representing Michael Hudson, 51, told San Diego County Superior Court Judge Laura Halgren that he didn’t think Hudson was mentally competent to understand court proceedings, reported.

Halgren ordered Hudson to be given a psychiatric exam Dec. 3. Another judge will hear the exam report Dec. 17. If Hudson is found incompetent, he would be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment.

San Diego police officers were sent to investigate a possible kidnapping reported at about 4:30 p.m. Oct. 14 on La Jolla Hermosa Avenue.

San Diego police said the incident occurred Oct. 14 in a park on La Jolla Hermosa Avenue when a man began arguing with a nanny, saying she was Hispanic and the child she was with was White and that she “can’t have the baby.”

The man tried to grab the 14-month-old, and the nanny fought him off and the man fled, police said.

Hudson was arrested hours later after he was seen in the water along a rocky area near La Jolla Cove. He was accused of attempted kidnapping and battery, with a hate crime because of the racial statements to the nanny. He also was charged with false imprisonment and resisting arrest. He has pleaded not guilty.

Coronavirus numbers by ZIP code

The San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency posts an updated list at 8 a.m. daily of coronavirus cases by ZIP code, including rates per 100,000 residents. As of Nov. 2, ZIP code 92037 had 388 registered cases (up by seven from the previous week) and 896.4 per 100,000. ZIP code is the code of residence, which may not be the location of exposure.

Police blotter

Oct. 9

Felony vehicle theft: 300 block Prospect Street, 1 p.m.

Oct. 18

Open container in public park: 8200 block Camino del Oro, 12:24 a.m.

Oct. 19

Petty theft: 1000 block Sapphire Street, midnight

Fraud: 5800 block Desert View Drive, 8 a.m.

Felony vandalism: 5400 block Caminito Bayo, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 23

Fraud: 1100 block Virginia Way, 8 a.m.

Residential burglary: 7900 block Saint Louis Terrace, 11 p.m.

Oct. 25

Felony vandalism: 1100 block Prospect Street, 3 p.m.

Felony vandalism: 5700 block La Jolla Boulevard, 5 p.m.

Oct. 27

Felony vandalism: 7700 block Fay Avenue, 5:41 a.m.

Simple battery: Cave Street and Prospect Place, 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 28

Vehicle break-in/theft: 6800 block La Jolla Scenic Drive South, 12:16 p.m.

Tamper with vehicle: 7400 block Hillside Drive, 4:30 p.m.

Felony vehicle theft: 2400 block Corona Court, 9 p.m.

Oct. 29

Commercial burglary, no weapon: 700 block Turquoise Street, 1:36 p.m.

Oct. 30

Commercial robbery, no weapon: 800 block Pearl Street, 9 p.m.

Oct. 31

Vehicle break-in/theft: 2800 block Torrey Pines Road, 11 a.m.

Felony vandalism: 1000 block Skylark Drive, 9:15 p.m.

Nov. 1

Vehicle break-in/theft: 1200 block Archer Street, 8 p.m.

Drunk in public: 600 block Tourmaline Street, 9:41 p.m.

Nov. 2

Use or under the influence of a controlled substance: 6200 block La Jolla Boulevard, 4:20 p.m.

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff from police and other local reports