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Local director slain, police hunt for clues

January 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A manhunt is under way as police search for suspects in the fatal stabbing of an award-winning producer.Bennett Bradley's badly stabbed body was found around 6 p.m. Saturday. Police were called to his apartment in the 100 block of South New Hampshire Avenue.

Bradley, a producer-director at the Fountain Theater, had been preparing for his latest production which was set to open February. When he didn't show up for rehearsals, a stage manager went to check on him and made the horrific discovery.

The Fountain Theater was Bennett Bradley's home away from home. It was the place where he devoted his talents as an award-winning director and producer and shared his love of cooking and conversing.

A part of the team for nearly 20 years, his Fountain family is struggling to comprehend his murder.

"It's just inconceivable. I just don't understand it at all, and I just can't go there right now. I have to think about his life and his love of theater," said Deborah Lawlor, co-founder of the Fountain Theater.

"Everybody loved Ben. Everybody adored Ben. He was friendly and open and loving and giving, and I can't imagine who would want to do such a thing. It's awful," said Stephen Sachs, co-founder of the Fountain Theater.

Bradley's friends say that the sweet and loving man deserves nothing less than justice.

"Everybody adored him. It's the last thing we would have imagined happening to him. It's just beyond belief, and we're eager to find who did it," said Sachs.

Police tape hangs from the front door of Bradley's apartment and serves as a bright yellow reminder of the violence that took place inside.

Investigators spent hours at the scene gathering evidence.

"It's definitely a homicide," said LAPD Detective John Skaggs. "There's complete evidence that somebody else caused his demise, so it is a homicide investigation."

However, police have not been able to determine an exact cause of death and are asking for tips from the public.

"Based on the appearance of the house, it appeared that it may have been ransacked, so they are looking into the possibility that it was robbery, but at this point, we just don't know," said Karen Rayner of LAPD. "We're asking for the public's help because we don't have a lot to go on," said Rayner.

Anyone with information is urged to call the LAPD at 1-877-LAPD-24-7.

"It was scary and really sad, because every time we walked by, he would like wave at us and say hi, and he was a very friendly person," described Tanya Guzman, Bradley's neighbor.

Neighbors called the award-winning theater director and producer an extremely nice guy.

Friends say that Bradley lived in the neighborhood for a long time, and he was always smiling and willing to help out his neighbors.