BEAUMONT — One day after the Jan. 5 discovery of a dead body near a freeway off-ramp, police in this rural farming town arrested a transient for the brutal murder.
According to Beaumont police, investigators are still looking for more evidence in the death of Mark Steven Burley, whose age and residence are still unknown. On Jan. 6, police took Edward Louis Abbenhaus, 53, into custody as a “person of interest.”
Abbenhaus, who police said was an “out-of-town transient,” is being held on $1 million bail. Police identified Burley as a “local transient,” said Darci Mulvihill, a spokeswoman for the Beaumont Police Department.
Burley’s unresponsive body was found near the westbound Beaumont Avenue off-ramp along Interstate 10, in an area known to be frequented by transients and squatters, Mulvihill said.
“Caltrans has cleared out a lot of the brush and trees in that area to keep it clear from transients gathering there”, she added.
It took the Riverside County Coroner’s Office nearly two weeks to release information on Burley’s death, attributing the cause Tuesday to “homicidal violence, blunt force head injuries.”
Abbenhaus was located by police in Cabazon, which is 10 miles east of Beaumont. Mulvihill did not say what led Beaumont detectives to Abbenhaus, nor did she say whether there were any witnesses to the crime.
“Normally in cases like these, we put out a release just to find out if anyone knows anything,” she said.
Abbenhaus, a transient Mulvihill said had been in the area for less than one week, was booked into Robert Presley Detention Center. He was charged with murder; bail was set at $1 million.
Deaths in Beaumont are rare, according to Mulvihill.
“Since 2000, we’ve had no more than one a year,” she said.
That included no deaths throughout 2010, one each in 2008 and 2009 and none in 2007.
Mulvihill said the case is ongoing and that detectives are reluctant to give out information while Burley’s death is being investigated.
“They can’t really say what led them to the suspect,” she said. “There are still some questions to be answered.”