A retired Los Angeles cop who has spent the past three years living in a prosperous Spokane neighborhood is now a fugitive, accused of shooting a fellow officer to death 14 years ago.
Authorities in Spokane and Los Angeles announced Tuesday that a nationwide search has begun for Ted E. Kirby.
Kirby, 54, is considered armed and dangerous. He walked away from his Spokane home June 30 and hasn’t been seen since, Spokane County sheriff’s deputies reported Tuesday.
Friends and relatives told authorities they haven’t heard from Kirby since then.
“ Kirby was described as being depressed, emotional and possibly armed with a handgun,” according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The Los Angeles County district attorney issued a warrant for Kirby’s arrest Monday.
It charges him with capital murder in the killing of George Arthur, a sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Kirby also worked as a deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County at the time of the shooting.
Kirby retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1996. He and his wife bought a home in the 1600 block of South Koren, near 16th and Carnahan, later that year, according to Spokane County property records.
His home, like those in the rest of his neighborhood of $200,000 houses, is immaculately kept, with regally pruned rose bushes and a lawn suitable for a golf course fairway.< Reached at the couple's home Tuesday, Kirby's wife, Denise, declined to comment.
A neighbor described Kirby as a nice person. Kirby did things such as haul the neighbor’s garden debris to the dump in his truck. The Kirbys were social, the neighbors said, and had parties to which neighbors were invited.
Los Angeles detectives now believe Kirby killed Arthur in June 1985 as the sergeant drove home after his shift at the Men’s Central Jail.
The Los Angeles Times, quoting sources in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said investigators are looking into the possibility that Kirby and Arthur were involved with the same woman.
The shooting occurred as Arthur was pulling his car onto southbound Interstate 5 in Los Angeles, authorities said.
Arthur lost control of the car after he was shot by someone in the car with him, and the vehicle ran into a center divider on the freeway on-ramp.
Witnesses told investigators they saw someone crawling out of the wreckage, possibly bleeding from a head wound.
Following early tips about the romantic entanglement, department sources told the Times that police suspected Kirby may have been involved in the crime. At the time of the slaying, however, they lacked the technology to link him to the case.
In 1992, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors tried to revive the case by offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information leading to an arrest. The “America’s Most Wanted” television program even did a segment on the crime. Still, nothing.
That’s when a law enforcement task force convened to revisit the case matched a DNA sample taken from blood found inside the car to Kirby, Los Angeles detectives said.
Los Angeles detectives have been in Spokane recently, working with local authorities to gather more evidence.
After detectives arrived at Kirby’s house with a court order allowing them to obtain a saliva sample, “ Ted Kirby put his wedding ring on the table, walked out on his wife and hasn’t been seen since,” according to one Los Angeles police source. Kirby left behind his wallet and his car, but took his gun, another source said.
The motive of the killing was the center of much discussion around the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday. Officials said that the crime appeared to be motivated by some sort of “romantic jealousy.”
Both men were married at the time of the homicide, sources say. “There was some sort of love-triangle there,” a department source said. Another source said, “It’s a very bizarre case.”
Kirby is about 5 feet 11 inches tall, 220 pounds, with gray hair and hazel eyes.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Check at 456-2233.
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