Detectives, family seek answers in cold case murder

Yondy "Faye" Bryant has dedicated an entire room in her home to her sister, Biiiance Hawkins,, who was brutally murdered in April 2001 in Lancaster. So far, the case remains unsolved.

LANCASTER – Biiiance Hawkins had said she would be extremely busy over the Easter weekend; so when family members didn’t hear from her, they were unconcerned.

“She said she would be shopping all Saturday and getting ready to sing in the choir on Sunday,” said sister Yondy “Faye” Bryant. “A lot of people said they tried to call her, but I just told them she was busy.”

But on Monday, Hawkins didn’t show up for work at Antelope Valley Hospital, and coworkers began to worry. A concerned coworker contacted Faye and the two went to Hawkins’ Gadsden Avenue apartment.

Biiiance Hawkins was 33 at the time of her death.

“I see her car in the usually spot, so we knocked on the door – no answer,” Faye said. “Then I just felt something.”

Faye said bad vibes prompted her to go to the apartment manager and request to be let in to her sister’s apartment.

“The first thing I see is her coffee table turned over,” Faye said. “Before I could get my foot in the living room he told me ‘No, don’t come in!’”

“He was so red, like he just saw a ghost or something,” Faye continued. “I felt it, and I just started screaming.”

Faye was not allowed into her sister’s apartment that day. When she learned the details of her sister’s death, she knew why.

“She was duct taped across her face, her arms were duct taped behind her, her feet were also duct taped, and her throat was slashed,” said Sgt. Richard Longshore of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

Antelope Valley Hospital nurse Biiiance Hawkins, 33, died of asphyxiation, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. On Monday, April 16, 2001, her body was found bound and gagged in the bedroom of her first-floor apartment at 43223 Gadsden Avenue in Lancaster. Officials believe she was killed some time over the weekend. Hawkins was not sexually assaulted and there were no signs of forced entry to the apartment, Sgt. Longshore said.

He said Hawkins was “totally overpowered” by her attacker, and her murder was especially brutal.

“Suffocating is one of the worst ways you can go, as far as I’m concerned,” Sgt. Longshore said. “She suffered greatly during her last minutes of life.”

The mystery surrounding Hawkins’ death has left family members suffering for more than a decade.

Hawkins (second from left) worked as a nurse at Antelope Valley Hospital.

“I think about it all the time, over and over, especially on anniversaries and birthdays,” said Faye. “It just bothers my mind and I can’t get any closure.”

Family members will join Sgt. Longshore this weekend at the apartment complex where Hawkins was murdered. The group will be passing out flyers regarding the crime and appealing to the community for information.

“We’re asking anyone who might still live in that community, from 2001 up to now, to tell us if they might have seen something,” Faye said. “Don’t assume that something isn’t important, just come forward, because any little thing might help us.”

“We’re looking for anyone that has any information, whatsoever, who might have known the victim or her associates,” Longshore said.

One of Hawkins’ associates at the time of her murder was her boyfriend, whom family members knew only as “China.” Faye said her sister introduced the family to “China” about six months before her death. Hawkins said she had met “China” through his cousin, who lived at her apartment complex.

“He was dressed up like a church guy, so at the time, I had no suspicions of him,” Faye said. “He was really quiet.”

After Hawkins’ death, family members learned that “China” was actually Eugene Ross, a parolee from Los Angeles. He had told Hawkins and her family that he was in his 30s, but he was actually a 21-year-old, gang member with a lengthy criminal history, officials said.

“His two nicknames were ‘Evil’ and ‘China,’” said Longshore.

Family members will pass out flyers Saturday at the Gadsden Ave Apartments where Hawkins was killed.

Longshore said they questioned Eugene “Evil” “China” Ross shortly after Hawkins’ murder. They arrested him for violating his parole, as they searched for clues in the case.

“We had to let him go because we had no other proof,” said Longshore.  “I’m sure there are people that know what happened who were afraid at the time of this individual.”

Ross found his way to Las Vegas where he was convicted for the 2006 murder of 22-year-old Joseph Kevin Smalley. Smalley was reportedly bound with duct tape and forced to give up the combination to his safe before he was shot several times. Ross was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 20 to 50 years.

“There are some similarities between the two cases,” Longshore said. “We’re looking at him [Ross] as a person of interest, but we’re also not excluding anyone else.”

Longshore is asking anyone with information about the murder of Biiiance Hawkins to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

If you would like to assist the family of Biiiance Hawkins in canvassing the community for information about her murder, you can meet the group at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, 2012 in front of the liquor store on the corner of Gadsden Avenue and Avenue K, in Lancaster.

  3 comments for “Detectives, family seek answers in cold case murder

  1. Boscoe
    April 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I hope the Sheriffs office catches this POS. For the family and for the unsettled spirit of this young lady. I mean, the POS boyfriend, arrested and convicted for a similar crime…and folks wonder why our Mayor is so hard on criminals in this valley…..

  2. lucas
    April 19, 2012 at 7:10 am

    This is the most atrocious and heinous crime ever committed in Lancaster.
    I wonder if the Sheriff would ever catch the right person who did this horrendous crime against this beautiful lady.
    Someone has to know something about this crime but are afraid to come forward.

  3. Gladdis
    April 18, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    10 years later…have they checked DNA from the tape? What a shame to have someone take the life of a beautiful, independent, responsible young woman. I hope her family gets justice.

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