Mom killed boyfriend, pushed daughters out on 405, died in Redondo Beach crash: LAPD

Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Murder-suicide suspected in tragedy that left baby, couple dead
Investigators say a woman stabbed her boyfriend to death, then pushed her two daughters out of her car on the 405 before dying in a Redondo Beach crash.

WOODLAND HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The deaths of a baby and a couple who were found at three separate locations in Los Angeles County are being investigated as a murder-suicide that began when the woman allegedly stabbed her boyfriend to death, Eyewitness News has learned.

Investigators say it appears that Danielle Cherakiyah Johnson, 34, killed her live-in boyfriend at their Woodland Hills apartment around 3:40 a.m., then drove off with her two daughters who had witnessed the homicide.

Find our latest updates on the suspected murder-suicide here | Timeline: How a suspected murder-suicide unfolded, leaving Woodland Hills couple and baby dead

She then apparently forced the two girls out of her vehicle in the middle of the 405 Freeway in Westchester. The older girl, a 9-year-old, was holding the 8-month-old when they were ejected from the SUV and hit the roadway, investigators say. The girl lost hold of the baby, who was then struck by a vehicle on the freeway and was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Johnson then drove to Redondo Beach, where she died after crashing her Porsche SUV into a tree at high speeds.

Sources say Johnson had been living in Woodland Hills with 29-year-old Jaelen Chaney and they had been a couple for several years. She was in the process of divorcing another man, the father of her 9-year-old daughter. Authorities have not yet confirmed if Chaney was the biological father of the baby who died on the freeway.

How events unfolded

Neighbors said they heard a loud argument coming from a unit in the building in the middle of the night before Chaney was stabbed to death. A 26-year-old woman who lives in the building next to the apartment says Monday morning, she saw a bloody scene.

"Their door was wide open, there was blood on the floor leading into their apartment, and then a trail of it in the hallway leading up to the elevator, and I saw some blood on the walls," she said.

Her father called 911.

"Called the police and told them that something was not right," he recalled. "And they told me, when I spoke to the EMT, to go in and check on the body. So I did. And he was deceased, he was facedown on the floor. And there was a lot of blood."

It appears that by the time neighbors noticed the scene and called 911, Johnson had already killed her infant daughter and died in the crash, as police were not called to the Woodland Hills scene until about 7:30 a.m.

405 Freeway death

Authorities believe Johnson drove away from the scene of the fatal stabbing with her two daughters, an 8-month-old baby and a 9-year-old, damaging the apartment gate in the process.

Around 4:30 a.m., the mother and the two children were driving northbound in a dark colored Porsche Cayenne on the 405 Freeway in the Westchester area when Johnson forced her two children out of the vehicle, investigators believe.

"The suspect slowed the vehicle and opened the passenger door for her daughter and told her to get out of the car," said LAPD Lt. Guy Golan. "When the daughter didn't do that, she forcibly pushed her out of the vehicle in the middle of the freeway while moving."

"The 9-year-old girl was holding the baby at that time when she was ejected from the vehicle. As she hit the roadway, she injured herself and she let go of the infant, being in the middle of the freeway."

The baby was struck by a vehicle and later pronounced dead at the scene.

Drivers who discovered the children on the freeway near Centinela Avenue called 911.

The older girl, the sole survivor, was transported to a hospital. She is now in custody of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

Sources told Eyewitness News the 9-year-old girl was a witness to the Woodland Hills homicide.

The Highway Patrol has asked the public for help in confirming details of the freeway incident. Anyone who may have driven by the area at that time was asked to go back and look at dash cameras.

A baby girl died and another girl was hospitalized with injuries after they were found on the northbound 405 Freeway in the Westchester area Monday.

"If anyone else was in the area, northbound 405 at Centinela Avenue approximate 4:30 (a.m.), we'd appreciate if you could call with any information," said CHP Officer Isabel Diaz.

The mother then drove her car at speeds in excess of 100 mph in Redondo Beach, crashing into a tree around 5 a.m., sources said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information about the incident on the 405 Freeway was urged to call CHP Detective E. Kim at the Southern Division Major Crimes Unit at (323) 644-9550, during

business hours. After business hours, tipsters can call (323) 259-3200.