June 7, 2011

Gold Chain Homicide

The LA Times has an update on a local 2009 murder that I've referenced a number of times as being characteristic of the more upscale sort of homicides in the modern San Fernando Valley. It turns out that it fits into a couple of my themes: First, that Armenians shooting each other tends to be at least more interesting than Mexicans shooting each other; and second, that social networking technology may be contributing to the decline in crime by making it easier to build a case.
The November 2009 killing that Manjikian is accused of committing drew national attention after being detailed in The Times last year. The events that led to Mike Yepremyan's death began after he sent a text message to his girlfriend, calling her friend Kat Vardanian a bitch. 
According to prosecutors, Vardanian saw the text message and, enraged, called her brother to beat up Yepremyan. Soon after, Yepremyan began receiving phone calls from a stranger who eventually told him to meet him at a Sears parking lot in North Hollywood, according to witnesses. 
There, Yepremyan and several friends encountered two men. The conversation appeared to be coming to a peaceful conclusion when, suddenly, one man struck Yepremyan. Right after that, authorities said, Manjikian brandished a gun and shot the 19-year-old in the back of his head. 
Manjikian and the other man, identified by prosecutors as Vahagn Jurian, sped off in a black BMW with no front license plate. ...

So, this is a pretty standard lunkhead killing. But, then it got interesting as the bereaved father set about data-mining social networks to figure out whodunnit.
In the months after his son's death, Art Yepremyan lost hope that police would find a suspect. He hired Nazarian, and together they began identifying individuals they believed might have been involved based on relationships with Jurian, Vardanian and others. They created a list of hundreds using online social networking sites and other sources, then began honing that list. 
Armenian Americans hail from all over world, but the construction of their last names can reflect their origins. 
Art Yepremyan, an Armenian immigrant himself, said he isolated names that could be traced to Armenia, where he believed his son's killer was from. Using connections from that country, he further narrowed the names down to families that lived in a particular neighborhood there, where he believed the killer's family had lived. 
In an interview in his backyard last year, he scrawled a haphazard web of links from one supposed suspect to another. As unconventional as his methods may have been, he identified Manjikian as the man he thought killed his son, the same man the LAPD eventually accused.

The LAPD finally tracked Manjikian down to a resort town in Puerto Rico and had him arrested, but a local judge let him out on bail and he vanished again.

But the larger point is that today's youths' urge to document every bit of their social lives in text and pictures means that they have even more incentive to behave.


Anonymous said...

The recently deceased Jack Kevorkian was Armenian.

Anonymous said...

Adam Carolla often jokingly complains about Glendale, CA's Armenians...

Anonymous said...

In the Vancouver suburbs of British Columbia (Canada), there is a large East Indian population. Primarily Sikhs from Punjab. Sikhs, if you don't know, were recruited by the British military in the past and have a reputation for being somewhat belligerent.

The Vancouver Indo-Canadian community is decently economically successful and fairly conservative, but it has gained a reputation for lots of homicides over the past couple decades. Most of the homicides are connected to personal disputes among friends and family members. Retributions for slights and insults, not random street thuggery or calculated assassinations. Fortunately, the overall crime rate is still pretty low and, in the last few years, the killings seem to have decreased somewhat.

Lots of of Indo-Canadians aren't especially intellectual, but they do work hard and cram lots of family members/workers under one roof. So they have lots of paychecks coming in. They tend to like BWMs/Mercedes/Escalades and build big, gaudy monster sized houses in Vancouver's southside suburbs, particularly Surrey.

I bring them up because they seem to share quite a few similarities with Armenians and other men with gold chains. Less wheeler dealer, but very similar in many other ways (killings over personal disputes, ostentatious tastes, argumentative, industrious, family oriented).

Aram Hatfield said...

The interesting aspect is not so much a higher cognitive engineering of crime or crime-solving. The cell phone trail of messages was sheer impulsive stupidity on the attackers behalf. The father just used common sense in trying to whittle down a larger than normal pool of suspects.

What is exceptional is the ceaseless drive for revenge in the old tribal Middle-East eye-for-an-eye Old Testament way.

Traditional Euro-Americans find this interesting because it's outside their cultural framework. They therefore mis-attribute it to some exceptional level of IQ-correlated consciousness and noble sense of justice that transcends the mundane.

In fact, this type of story is only a little less depressingly mundane than NAMs shooting each other. If the LA Times understood this as primitive Hatfield-McCoy blood honor revenge killings it would lose much of its shine.

blobcat said...

Does this mean the internet is God? (Or will be?)

Murphy's Life said...

"Does this mean the internet is God? (Or will be?)"

Unfortunately, it may mean a vengeful Old Testament God intercedes before the more bureaucratic and human rights observing modern God gets around to meting out justice. ;0)

Anonymous said...

Why then does it seem that social networking only contributes to Black crime and violence (i.e. violent flash mobs and the memorial weekend debacles)?

jody said...

lol! straight out of "taken". marco from tropoja!

this is the problem with twitter, cell phones, email, and social networking on the web. it lets stupid people show us just how stupid they really are, and leaves a trail that they don't realize they are leaving. at least the average person might (i hope?) realize credit card transactions leave a paper trail which they can really only avoid by using cash.

i remember a few movies in the mid 90s when the cell phone started to become a central part of the plot. in real life, local police had to have easily cracked thousands of cases over the last decade due to simple cell record checks.

since this new gadget was not physically connected to any wires, and the typical person never saw the cell equipment in action, the network of behind the scenes hardware that makes it all work (they don't want to know how stuff works anyway), to many people, cell phones were simply magic. voices floating through the air and connecting surreptitiously. i guarantee in 1995, millions of people had no idea the cells were tracking every call, time, and location from telephones in the network.

and now this weiner guy. didn't computer experts figure out that he had to have sent the photo of his penis to the woman himself? they realized it was sent by weiner from tweetdeck and his account wasn't hacked. and that's why he finally admitted it? don't lie about computer stuff like that, the technical nerds will easily figure out what really happened.

jody said...

and now, for your entertainment. armenians atraight outta glendale:


BMW, bro. gold chain, bro. cell phone, bro.

agnostic said...

And yet the adoption of social network accounts, a cell phone on every belt, etc., is invisible when you look at the declining crime rate.

If anything, the decline was shallower during the 2000s when all that stuff became widespread, compared to 1993-'99, when it either didn't exist or was out of reach of the common person (let alone common lunkhead).

I don't think the opposite happened -- like, if there hadn't been social network cites and cell phones, the crime rate would have kept plunging instead of falling at a slower rate. That's just how the falling stage of a cycle works -- fast at first, then slow.

Technology has no visible impact on changes in the crime rate one way or the other.

eh said...


Tiger Woods to miss US Open because of injury

Steroid users...are more susceptible to injuries...

NFL players who use steroids have more injuries

Google up 'before' and 'after' fotos of Woods -- there is reason for suspicion.


Let me clarify a previous comment:

Lumpy was a lunkhead.

Someone who kills over such nonsense is scum. Imported scum, apparently.

Phillip T said...

"But the larger point is that today's youths' urge to document every bit of their social lives in text and pictures means that they have even more incentive to behave."

- This might be another area in which modern life is selecting against the dim, since those on the left side of the bell curve seem to often not make the connection that social media and crime don't mix.

Traveller said...

"called her brother to beat up Yepremyan"

Stupid men who obey to stupid women.
A low IQ sign for sure.

Traveller said...

"But the larger point is that today's youths' urge to document every bit of their social lives in text and pictures means that they have even more incentive to behave."

Should this be a (not so) hidden praise to 1984 Orwell style total surveillance?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

OT Steve, but Tyler Cowen has another one of those terrible conundrums he just can't figure out.

The Great (Male) Stagnation.

"Again, no definitive answers, but the raw patterns are striking."

Matt said...

Anyone who's wrongly accused of an infraction should get the police report and search for the social networking sites of all the principals and witnesses. Are people who claim to be strangers facebook friends? Were they on any of the sites while they allege that they were somewhere seeing something?

It's the new common sense, and I don't think that the police care enough to do it.

Jeremy Bentham said...

I was right! Panopticon works!

Anonymous said...


Isn't diversity great?

neil craig said...

It also suggests that, as with ill individuals looking round the net for obscure medical treatments that their doctors have never heard of, the net makes it possible for ordinary people to match the abilities of "experts" such as the police.

Also that iof not the police, certainly the judicial system, is crap.

Svigor said...

I was going to ask why they don't all drop the "ian" suffix from their names. Duh, stupid question, that's how they know who to team up with against the world.

Zvart McCoy said...

Why then does it seem that social networking only contributes to Black crime and violence (i.e. violent flash mobs and the memorial weekend debacles)?

Duh. Who do you think creates technologies like cell phones and social network sites? Overwhelmingly straight white males (along with Asians who are duped into reinforcing the very system that also oppresses them).

That's why technology, science and the Western academic tradition are racists. Just ask Dr. Cornel West.

Svigor said...

Should this be a (not so) hidden praise to 1984 Orwell style total surveillance?

Not really. Putting us all in cells would put a big dent in crime. Pointing that out does not constitute an endorsement.

Anonymous said...

I remember coming across an online list of wanted L.A. criminals several years ago and reading the profiles of some of the criminals, especially the ones with Armenian names. The wanted Armenians were wanted mostly for fairly complex crimes, generally fraud, most of which would have required an IQ substantially higher than the crimes committed by the blacks and Hispanics on the list. In that way, I suspect, Armenians are more like immigrant Italians of a century or so ago. The difference between Armenians and NAMs is that 50 years from now blacks and Hispanics will still have crime rates 5-10 times higher that of whites, while the children and grandchildren of these Armenians will mostly be assimilated with crime rates at or near that of Northern European whites - assuming that they assimilate to the white standard rather than the Mexifornian one.

In fact it is immigrant groups like Russians and Armenians who help make a compelling argument for getting (ironically) our Mexican border under control. We really don't want to have to deal yet again with more high IQ groups committing sophisticated, organized crime that spans generations of family members. To the extent that the US becomes more Mexican, we will.

Anonymous said...

Do we have an extradition treaty with Armenia?


Anonymous said...

I live in a white upper middle class neighborhood in the Bay Area which is rapidly sucking in Asians. I have noticed a proliferation of video cameras out in front our houses. They have little infrared lights so they can see at night. Some are hidden in bird houses and others are hung on basketball backboards. You don't see them at first or if driving but walking around they are noticable. I saw an advertisement in a costco flier for 4 cameras for $300. We bought one with similar technology as a baby monitor for $120?

These have ok resolution. Good enough to detect a license plate. All it takes to investigate a crime would be to see what cars drove up the street at what time to begin to narrow down the suspects. The evidence would also be dead bang in any kind of court room.

SGOTI said...

Were any Kardashians implicated in the Manjikian-Yepremyan-Vardanian murder case?

Crawfurdmuir said...

The claim that "social networking technology may be contributing to the decline in crime by making it easier to build a case" is not really borne out by the details given later in this post. There it is revealed that the victim's father "lost hope that the police would find a suspect." So this man built the case himself, with the aid of private detectives.

Only after gathering the evidence on his own was he able to get the LAPD to take an interest in the suspect. Then when the latter was found at a Puerto Rican resort and arrested, "a local judge let him out on bail and he vanished again."

If law enforcement isn't willing to put the effort into solving a murder, and the only way a suspect is identified is by the private efforts of the victim's relatives, how many murders are going to be solved? If judges aren't willing to hold suspects in capital cases, and let them out on bail despite their high flight risk, how many of them are going to come to trial?

Social networking technology did help find a suspect in this case, but how does it contribute to the decline in crime if police are too lackadaisical to investigate until evidence is dropped in their laps, and courts are then too complaisant to detain the accused? The main message conveyed by this account is not about the value of technology, but rather the utter indifference and incompetence of the legal authorities. If crime is falling, it must be doing so in spite of, rather than because of anything they accomplish.

Anonymous said...

And where was Captain Yossarian during all this???


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Aram, I would turn that telescope around. That sort of tribal behavior among males is the norm everywhere except a few places such as Northern(ish) Europe. It's not an Armenian and Sikh thing.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't sound like an upscale sort of homicides.

Anonymous said...

And where was Captain Yossarian during all this???

Nice how Heller picked an Armenian to be his superman/anti-hero. Couldn't have picked a Jew like himself - that would have been too, too... real?

It's so annoying that Jewish artists are forever making their fictional alter egos gentile.

jody said...

"Technology has no visible impact on changes in the crime rate one way or the other."

a completely ridiculous assertion. you're easily as annoying as whiskey or truth when you post on this topic, agnostic. you just plain have no idea at all what you're talking about here. but i'm sure something happening in canada today is what you'll point to as evidence that you're right.

my dad was a computer programmer and a security expert for a few years before moving into an executive position, at a company called eaton. they're relatively small, market value of about 17 billion. still, they have thousands of employees.

in the early 80s, when microcomputers were replacing mainframes in the corporate office, my dad oversaw a simultanous upgrade in internal company security. between, oh, 1980 and 2000, employees routinely attempted to steal desktops, the increasingly common laptops (small, easy to steal computers that didn't even exit in 1975), computer monitors, and conference room projectors (they make nice home theaters).

employee theft decreased at a slow but steady rate as even the dumber employees learned over time that the key cards they used get to access every door, were reporting to a central security station, creating an access log of all doors in every company building. additionally many areas of the office were increasingly under video surveillance. by 1998 or so it was pretty hard to steal stuff without leaving some security evidence somewhere. this was right around the time most employees had switched over to laptops, so there was LOTS of stuff around to steal.

they caught many guys stealing desktops, laptops, and computer monitors in the middle of the night when they thought nobody was looking. eventually even the dumb employees all figured out they could not easily get away with that anymore, and internal company theft of 2000 dollar laptops and 1000 dollar monitors dropped like a rock. after year 2000 or so internal computer theft was rare.

jody said...

that's a minor example of a much larger trend in security, whereby it has become very difficult to steal certain stuff over the last few decades due to improving countermeasures. stealing cars gets harder and harder, and lojack by itself makes a chop shop an economically risky proposition - it's not even worth your time to steal a car equipped with lojack. robbing a big bank physically is almost impossible now, and has to be an inside job or an electronic scam.

not only does correctly applied modern technology reduce the crime rate, but in fact, your very thesis, that the birth rate and the violent crime rate are directly related, is a technology dependent argument. the introduction of reliable, seamless birth control medicine is what reduced the birth rate starting in the 1960 to 1970 time frame. i wrote about this in my magnum opus post about "Why music sucks today". nothing else had even a remotely equal effect on the birth rate but that one single new technology - the option to have unprotected sex without making a baby.

even if you were right (you're not), and the ONLY THING THAT MATTERS is the birth rate...the birth rate was greatly reduced by technology.

still waiting for you to explain how the violent crime rate for mexicans is higher in mexico than in the US...when their birth rates are reversed. lower in mexico, higher in the US. according to your thesis, you're not allowed to say "drugs" because drugs don't matter, according to you.

meanwhile, improving technology has actually increased the rate of high seas piracy, now that any group of IQ 90 nigerians or somalians can have access to enough cheap boats and guns to hijack either oil tankers or the sailboats of the independently wealthy.

Anonymous said...

In the original story, the thug's sister's attorney is Anthony Brooklier.

This is the same lawyer who's now (2011) defending the accused in the case of the white guy from SF who was beaten leaving a Dodger game by Latino thugs.

Is the LA criminal defense scene that small?


really high arches said...

Damn those naughty tribal types who commit honor killings. If they were only Italian with their association with the high culture of art, fashion and fine cuisine despite being murderous psychopaths.

Svigor said...


I bet the Yepremyans are known for their individualistic streak.

Svigor said...

And where was Captain Yossarian during all this?

I was wondering about Gozer the Gozarian.

ZZ said...

I think the community suffers from hard-working first-generation parents spoiling their children with money they never had to work for.

Rich americans usually still make their children drive old cars, but not middle eastern families, where 20-year-olds with flashy $50,000 cars are pretty common.