LOS ANGELES -- A fugitive wanted for a June 2010 homicide in the city of Palmdale was returned to the U.S. today following her capture in Belize, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and Sheriff Leroy Baca with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Larene Eleanor Austin, 29, of the Antelope Valley, was taken into custody without incident on January 25, 2012 in the country of Belize. Austin was returned to the United States, via Houston, Texas, earlier today.
According to investigators, Austin allegedly murdered Lanell Barsock on June 16, 2010 and reported the murder to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Palmdale, California. Investigators allege that Austin attempted to frame the victim’s boyfriend for the murder.
After further investigation by homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the focus of the investigation shifted to Austin as the main suspect in the homicide. A warrant charging Austin with one count of murder was issued by the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles.
When Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives determined that Austin had fled the state of California, detectives requested assistance from the Los Angeles Fugitive Task Force, and publicized the case on the television program, America’s Most Wanted (AMW).
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives received a tip after the AMW program aired a story about the murder over the 2011 Christmas holiday. The tip indicated Austin was living in the Central American country of Belize. After further investigation, Sheriff’s detectives determined the tip was credible and shared it with members of the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles.
A federal warrant charging Austin with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP) was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on December 29th, 2011.
The Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles contacted the FBI’s Legal Attaché in San Salvador, which covers Belize and other Central American countries, to further investigate the tip.
Officers with the Belize Police Department working with FBI agents in Central America arrested Austin yesterday in the Toledo District of Belize without incident.
Earlier today, Austin was expelled from the country of Belize and was flown to Houston, Texas, under the escort of FBI agents assigned to the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador.
In Houston, Austin was turned over to the custody of homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Austin is expected to make an initial appearance in Superior Court in Houston, Texas, and is expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the near future.
It is anticipated that the United States government will dismiss the federal warrant charging Austin with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and Austin will remain in custody while she awaits prosecution for the state murder charges by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The successful arrest and return of Austin was based on cooperation among the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department; the FBI’s Legal Attaché assigned to the United States Embassy in San Salvador; the Belize Police Department; the Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles, which includes members from the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department; and agents with the FBI’s Houston Field Office.
The return of Austin was funded by the United States government’s “Project Welcome Home,” which provides funding to assist in the transportation of federal fugitives to the United States, where the repatriation by the host country occurs through deportation or extradition.