Rolling Hills Estates fatal stabbing suspect released

ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Calif. (KABC) -- A woman who had been arrested in connection with a fatal stabbing at a Rolling Hills Estates mall parking lot has been released from custody, sheriff's officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Authorities arrested 39-year-old Cherie Townsend last week on suspicion of murdering 66-year-old Susan Leeds, saying they believed the motivation to be robbery.

Following the arrest, homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department presented the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, according to an entry posted to the city of Rolling Hills Estates Facebook page.

The post went on to say that prosecutors are requesting additional investigation to be conducted as they continue to work with homicide detectives, and that investigators have received new information from the public after they held a press conference last week. The Facebook post, which was published Monday evening, stated that Townsend would be released from custody without providing a time frame.

Sheriff's officials confirmed to Eyewitness News Tuesday morning that Townsend was officially released from custody. She was seen leaving the Century Regional Correctional Facility covered in a blanket, flanked by three people. She quickly got into an awaiting white sedan, which sped away from cameras.

Townsend does not have a future court date, and she is not being tracked or monitored.

Leeds was found stabbed to death inside her Mercedes-Benz SUV at the Promenade on the Peninsula shopping center parking lot on May 3. She was initially located by other shoppers. By the time help arrived, she was already dead, stabbed several times in her upper body.

A few days after the murder, authorities detained another man for the killing. They also released him.

Townsend's release comes as the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office asks for detectives to perform additional follow-up work in their investigation. City officials said the focus of the investigation has not changed.

If you have any relevant information about this crime, you're urged to contact LASD's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. You can submit anonymous tips by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).
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