INGLEWOOD (CBSLA) – A Pomona man has been arrested in a three-decade-old unsolved kidnapping and murder of an 11-year-old boy in Inglewood.

An undated photograph of 11-year-old William Tillett. (Inglewood Police Department)

Edward Donell Thomas, 50, was apprehended Feb. 14 in the death of 11-year-old William Tillett, Inglewood police reported Tuesday.

On the afternoon of May 24, 1990, Tillett was walking home from Kew Elementary School in Inglewood with some classmates. When the boys broke off and went there separate ways, he was kidnapped in the area of Imperial Highway and Crenshaw Boulevard, according to police.

The fourth-grader’s body was found later that day suffocated to death in a dark carport in a Hawthorne neighborhood.

“It certainly had an indelible mark in my mind, in my heart,” Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta said about the case at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.


“I was deputy chief of police here, I remember that day like it was yesterday,” Inglewood Mayor James Butts added.

Authorities Wednesday did not disclose exactly how they linked Thomas to the murder, but said that advanced technology assisted in identifying him as the suspect.

“We feel that we have very strong and overwhelming and compelling case against Mr. Thomas, and clearly the district attorney has filed in this matter,” Fronterotta said.

Fronterotta also added that investigators believe Thomas did not act alone.

“With us being so close, I just want to keep the momentum going and I just want to plead with the community to just come forward,” Tillett’s brother, Hubert Tillett, told reporters Thursday.

Thomas was charged Tuesday with one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a kidnapping and lying in wait. He also faces one count of felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted as charged, he could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Edward Donell Thomas. (Inglewood PD)

He is being held in the Inglewood Jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned April 4.

This comes as Orange County authorities also announced Wednesday the arrest of a Colorado man in the 1973 abduction and murder of an 11-year-old girl in Newport Beach while she was walking home from school. That suspect was identified using genealogical DNA.


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