LOS ANGELES -- The 1976 murder of a woman whose son attended a preschool under investigation for widespread child molestation is being reviewed by detectives looking for a possible link, the district attorney revealed Friday.
District Attorney Robert Philibosian also announced a Torrance daycare facility was being investigated for possible molestation -- the fourth Los Angeles area preschool to come under scrutiny in two weeks. A female teacher at the school was detained by police Friday and later released.
Karen Sue Klaas, 32, was raped and strangled in her Hermosa Beach home on Jan. 30, 1976, and died five days later. Her 5-year-old son attended the McMartin Pre-School in neighboring Manhattan Beach, where the owner and six teachers have been charged with 115 counts of child molesations.
Philibosian said Manhattan Beach police are investigating the murder to determine if there is any connection with the school. Prosecutors said more than 100 children may have been abused over the last 10 years at the school.
Sheriff's homicide investigators and Hermosa Beach detectives told UPI late Thursday there was no link between the 8-year-od murder and the school.
'We're looking at it to see if there is any further connection, but that was covered in the original investigation and covered well,' Sheriff's Capt. Robert Grimm said.
'There doesn't seem to be any connection other than her child went to that school.'
The unidentified teacher at the Hickory Tree Preschool in Torrance was questioned after police arrived to serve a search warrant at the school. A second search warrant in the same case was served at a private residence in nearby Carson.
In a separate case, Philibosian said a suspect was arrested for molesting a child at the Little Angel Daycare Center in Lynwood. Earlier, the district attorney's office said that up to 20 children might have been victimized at the school and a second facility owned by the same person.
Philibosian said there was no connection between the various preschool investigations.
Henry Lawson, 23, was charged Thursday with molesting a 4-year-old boy who attended the Little Angel Daycare Center, which was operated illegally by the suspect's mother, Ann Huff, a Sheriff's Department spokesman said.
Investigators discovered Mrs. Huff did not have a license to run the facility, they closed it down and notified the parents of all the children enrolled there. The woman was not arrested but is being investigated, the spokesman said.
Torrance Police Sgt. Harold Maestri told UPI the parents of a 3-year-old reported in November 1983 that their daughter had been molested at the Hickory Tree Preschool.
Maestri said the parents told investigators the girl was unusually afraid of having her picture taken and that the family doctor had found evidence the child had been sexually abused.
Maestri said the little girl told her mother, 'The bad man had me sit on his lap ... and has kissed me.' The youngster said the man threatened to harm other students if the girl told her parents.
Police are also investigating the possible physical and sexual abuse of a 2-year-old who attended the Sunrise Preschool in Simi Valley. No arrests have been made in the case.