MORENO VALLEY, Calif. – A 25-year-old man who lives at a home searched by detectives investigating a teen's slaying once worked as a teacher's aide at the victim's high school, school officials confirmed Thursday.
Authorities searched the home of Lazarus Tasby's parents Tuesday and seized a green SUV similar to the one seen speeding from the area where 17-year-old Norma Lopez was abducted July 15.
Riverside County sheriff's officials would not say if Tasby was a suspect. Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Joseph Borja said he could not release any information about the search because it would jeopardize the investigation.
The search warrant affidavits in the case are sealed, he said.
The home where Tasby lives with his parents in Moreno Valley, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, is three blocks from the field where Lopez's purse and backpack were found.
Tasby worked at Valley View High School from March 2007 to November 2009 as an instructional aide working with special education students, said Henry Voros, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Moreno Valley Unified School District.
School district records show Tasby resigned for personal reasons Nov. 17. That followed his arrest Oct. 29 on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute, according to Riverside County Superior Court records.
He pleaded not guilty and the case is pending. A call to Glen Sandler, Tasby's attorney in the prostitution case, was not immediately returned.
The Tasby family's attorney, Miles Clark, said investigators took several items from Lazarus Tasby's room but Clark said no one in the family had done anything wrong. Tasby was not home during the search and detectives did not question anyone while they were there, Clark said.
"In no way is Eric or his wife Wanda or his son Lazarus responsible for the death of anyone," Clark said. "This has been a nightmare for them, as you can imagine."
Eric Muswaswa, 42, was arrested during the search on suspicion of obstruction of justice and released a short time later, but Borja said the arrest was not related to the homicide investigation.
Investigators believe Lopez was abducted July 15 as she walked to a friend's home after a summer class at Valley View High School. Investigators found signs of a struggle but they have not released the cause of her death. Lopez's purse and backpack were found in the field. Her body was found five days later in another field two miles away.
Detectives previously have said they believe Lopez was kidnapped by a stranger. Authorities have offered a $35,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.