SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) --A former civilian volunteer with the Los Angeles Police Department was taken into custody, accused of stabbing his adult stepson to death in Simi Valley.
Police said the incident started with a family dispute between Howard Novak and his 28-year-old stepson Kelly Hughes in a home on N. Hietter Avenue near Diller Court.
The homicide was reported around 11:25 p.m. Thursday. Police said Novack's mother was inside the home at the time of the incident. Investigators said all three lived in the home together.
"He had trouble with him. He was scared of the kid," said Don Gillespie, a next-door neighbor.
Gillespie said there was increasing tension in the household with Novack putting pressure on his stepson to help out.
"Tried to get him to go to work and all that, and he just didn't want to work or anything," Gillespie said.
He said the pair had fought in the past, but violence like this is completely out of character for Novack.
"He's just a great guy. I don't think he would have done anything like this if it weren't self-defense or something," Gillespie said.
Other neighbors who know Novack echo the same sentiment and said he was trying to help his stepson by allowing him to move into his home.
"He's a very good guy, and I'm not saying that to stick up for him, but he was. I didn't know his stepson," said another neighbor, Chuck Rudziewicz.
Rudziewicz said he has never seen Novack get mad and thinks something had to go really wrong to set him off.
"We have no prior calls for service to this location. There's nothing to indicate that in the past, there has been reported issues at the house," said Cmdr. Joseph May with Simi Valley police.
Though there is no record of violence at the home, May said there are still many questions that need to be answered surrounding the case.
"We don't know the relationship between the stepfather and the stepson, whether it was a good relationship and something went bad tonight, or if there's been some kind of longtime issue between them. We don't know that information," May said.
The investigation is ongoing.