LBPD Chief Robert Luna announces the arrest of Melvin Earl Farmer, Jr. and his accomplice during a Friday news conference. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
UPDATE | Authorities over the weekend identified the accomplice arrested in connection with a recent string of robberies targeting older women in Long Beach.
The accomplice was identified as 31-year-old Sophia Kim of Lynwood, according to a release from the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). Kim is charged with robbery with a bail set at $100,000.
Kim was arrested with Lynwood resident Melvin Earl Farmer, Jr. on Friday in connection with multiple residential robberies that took place from February 2 to February 9 and targeted women ages 63 to 95 years old.
Authorities announced Farmer Jr.’s identity during a news conference on Friday. He was suspected of robbing the victims as well as sexually assaulting them in some cases. His bail was set at $2 million.
Video still of suspect Melvin Earl Farmer, Jr. courtesy of LBPD.
PREVIOUSLY: Suspect in Series of Violent Robberies, Sexual Assaults Targeting Older Women Arrested
2/10/17 at 8:00PM | A 39-year-old Lynwood man was arrested today in connection with a recent string of violent residential robberies targeting older Long Beach women, with the most recent incident believed to have occurred on Thursday morning, authorities said.
Melvin Earl Farmer, Jr. was booked this afternoon on multiple charges, including residential robbery, rape by force or fear, oral copulation by force or injury, making a death threat, and an assault with a deadly weapon [not a firearm] with great bodily injury, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said during a news conference this evening.
Farmer was arrested following a “thorough interview” that began after he was detained at 9:45AM this morning by Long Beach detectives near Century Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles, Luna said.
“We’re confident that the suspect wanted in connection with the recent crime series [...] targeting our senior residents is now in custody,” Luna said. “We hope our community can rest a little easier tonight.”
Authorities said a 31-year-old Lynwood woman was also booked today for her alleged involvement as an accomplice. The details surrounding her connection were not released, though police confirmed she was not present at the time of the incidents.
Both are being held at Long Beach City Jail.
Farmer is believed to be linked to at least five incidents that happened between February 2 and February 9, at various times between 5:45AM and 7:45PM. Four of those robberies happened at a senior housing complex near Atlantic Avenue and Via Carmelitos, according to the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). The most recent robbery took place on the 3700 block of Pacific Avenue Thursday morning.
In most cases, the suspect knocked on the door, forced his way inside, and physically assaulted the victim, authorities stated earlier. He stole items such as purses, cell phones and cash. In one case the victim was walking near the residential complex when the robbery happened.
The last two incidents also involved a sexual assault and attempted sexual assault, police said.
All of the victims were women between the ages of 63 and 95 years old.
Police were able to find the suspect through a tip following the release of photos and surveillance videos yesterday.
“I’d like to thank the community,” Luna said. “It was your coverage of this story and the pictures you put out that somebody out there saw the picture and said ‘I know this guy’ and called us.”
Police have not yet determined a motive for the suspect’s actions, adding that the investigation remains active and ongoing. Luna added that Farmer has a lengthy criminal history that includes robberies and thefts.
Detectives expect to present this case to the Los Angeles District Attorney's early next week.
Police are currently aware of five victims, but Luna said there may be more robbery, sexual assault or other victims out there, and urged them to contact detectives.
“We want to make sure he’s held accountable for everything he has done,” Luna said.