TUJUNGA CANYON (CBSLA.com) — The family of a Sunland mother of two found dead in a wash near Tujunga Canyon hosted a cleanup event at the site her body was found.
CBS2’s Laurie Perez said volunteers and loved ones had a major task at hand.
The place where police recovered Julia Moniz’s body three weeks ago is a homeless encampment. She said the smell of human waste is overpowering.
“That’s human biological waste,” said Gail Carlson with the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council.
Family and friends came to the spot where Moniz’s body was found — to grieve, to look for answers, to find out why the 34-year-old woman was found here.
The family acknowledges Moniz was a recovering drug user. They believe she may have gone to the area and relapsed.
“Someone that was living here probably knows what happened to my sister,” said Sarah, Moniz’s sibling.
Beyond seeking answers, Moniz’s family said they hoped the cleanup effort could spare another family such pain. By reducing the waste in the area, they are also hoping to reduce the dangers.
“Oh I know it will reduce the crime,” said Sarah.
The homeless encampment goes on for yards in both directions — through thick brush. Neighbors say as sad as Moniz’s death is, it’s not the first or last violent crime they expect to find near here as long as this area remains.
“There were seven people that the police came in just a few weeks ago and took them out, they had warrants and some of those people are now in jail, there’s other people that have mental health issues and we would really like for them to get help as well,” said Carlson.
The volunteers removed many piles of clutter and garbage.
The community hopes this was a first step in making the area safer for all. For Moniz’s family, they’re hoping to see the place where she was found dead, become a more restful place.
“It’s a beautiful mountainside and it’s lovely to look at it but it’s hard to know what lays underneath,” said Chris, one of Moniz’s relatives.
Organizers told Perez that today’s event was the seventh cleanup of a homeless camp near the wash this year.