Sylmar residents continue to express “shock and disbelief” over a double murder that occurred during the recent Thanksgiving weekend.
Marcel Ianyves Gradvohl, 38, was arrested on Nov. 28 at his residence on the block of 12600 Amboy Avenue. He is suspected of killing his mother Maureen Gradvohl, 67, and an uncle, Edward Steckel Jr., 58.
To neighbors familiar with the family, the news came as a big jolt. Robert, who declined to give his last name, said he has known the family a number of years. He still remembers when homicide investigators showed up at his door to ask questions about the two homicide victims.
“[I feel] shock, disbelief,” he said. “The mother has been over to our place for the holidays, and we would talk over tea.”
Andrew Patino, who has lived in the area since 2013, said he was very surprised to see his usually quiet neighborhood suddenly have police tape blocking off one of the street corners, and see three cops in front of the Gradvohl house, when the suspect was being arrested.
At the corner of Amboy Avenue and El Cajon Street lies a piece of a police tape, still tied to a stop sign.
“[In] every house, you don’t know what’s going on,” Patino said.
Even neighbors personally unacquainted with the Gradvohls noted how the family seemed friendly, particularly the mother who they would see walking with her dog in the street.
Some residents, who asked to remain anonymous, recalled how their mother and grandmother used to babysit the victim’s kids. They mentioned they also knew Gradvohl’s brother Asher, who took his own life in 2017.
They also remembered speaking with Gradvohl around Thanksgiving, noting that his behavior seemed unusual.
“We spoke to the guy and everything and … he had a different attitude and stuff,” the neighbors said. “We took a walk [with Marcel] at night and he asked us about our family, our grandma; it was kind of scary.”
According to LAPD detective Dave Peteque, officers arrived at the family home after the suspect allegedly called and reported that his mother had committed suicide by hanging. Further investigation, however, led police to believe that the crime scene had been staged.
According to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner, the mother’s death was caused by strangulation.
Following up on a tip from neighbors who said they had observed a person digging in the backyard at the suspect’s home a couple days prior to the call, police searched the area and found a spot where dirt had been disturbed. There investigators discovered Steckel’s body, with a gunshot wound.
According to Los Angeles County Sheriff jail records, Gradvohl’s court date is Dec. 22. He remains in custody in lieu of bail set at $4 million.