Suspicion of murder suspect arrested in La Jolla


HEMET - A man was in custody for suspicion of murder today in the disappearance of an 80-year-old Hemet-area man whose bank accounts have been drained of more than $92,000, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Thomas Jeffrey Brooks, 39, of San Diego, was arrested in La Jolla around 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, on a federal warrant and later jailed in the Robert Presley Detention Center on suspicion of homicide, according to Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.

Edward Clayton Andrews was last seen about 11 a.m. on May 31, leaving his mobile home in the 42000 block of Florida Avenue in unincorporated Valle Vista; he was reported missing June 4 by family members. His vehicle, a gray Saturn Ion with paper plates, also is missing.

Since then, more than $92,000 has been withdrawn from Andrews’ bank accounts by someone caught on security video using his bank card at ATMs around the region.

Two men were caught on video using Andrews’ credit card to buy items at a Target store in Lake Forest and, on June 17, they bought a big-screen TV at a Wal-Mart, also in Lake Forest, sheriff’s spokesman Jerry Franchville said.

One of the men is believed to be Brooks, who is also believed to be the man caught on video withdrawing cash from Andrews’ bank account at ATM machines in Orange, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties, deputies said.

Brooks was arrested in connection with the ATM withdrawals by the Inland Regional Apprehension Team, which is made up of FBI agents, sheriff’s deputies, and Riverside and San Bernardino police.

After being questioning, Brooks was booked on suspicion of murder, deputies said.

Authorities did not say what may have happened to Andrews and provided no information on the man seen with Brooks.

Sgt. David Kurylowicz of the Hemet substation said Andrews lived alone in the mobile home park, and that his neighbors said he was a “very literate, articulate man.’’

“There were no signs of a struggle or foul play inside or around the residence,’’ he added.

“He lived by himself,’’ Franchville said. “He was pretty lonely. He was just out there looking for some friends. It’s just unfortunate,’’ that the people he met victimized him.

Brooks was held without bail today in Riverside on a charge of homicide and on a federal fugitive from justice warrant, a spokeswoman at Robert Presley Detention Center said.