Suspected killer arrested in 20-year-old Southern California cold case

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Authorities in Ventura County have arrested a man who they say killed an elderly man at his home more than 20 years ago.

Antoine Nehme of Victorville was arrested Tuesday in connection with the murder of 71-year-old Dennis Leroy Wood, who was found shot dead inside his Moorpark home on April 16, 2004. Nehme was 52 years old at the time.

Wood’s body was found by deputies with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, who visited his home on the 12500 block of Mountain Trail Street as part of a wellness check.

The elderly homeowner was found dead from at least one gunshot wound and his death was immediately ruled a homicide.

The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that Wood died from gunshot wounds to the head and chest, and his body was undiscovered for about two weeks.

The Sheriff’s Office said investigators worked the case and pursued all the leads they had at the time, but the trail eventually went cold.

Over the years, investigators would re-evaluate the case on occasion in search of new leads, including most recently in 2023 when cold case detectives formally reopened the case.

Antoine Nehme, 71, of Victorville is shown in the mugshot provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office on May 15, 2024.

Those detectives, the Sheriff’s Office said, were able to uncover new evidence that allegedly linked Nehme to the killing.

Details about the new evidence were not shared and authorities have not released any information about a suspected motive.

Nehme was arrested around 11 a.m. Tuesday and has since been transferred to the Ventura County Jail to await charges for first-degree murder. He’s being held on $2 million bail, jail records show.

He’s scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.

The case remains under active investigation and anyone with additional information is urged to contact the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit via email or by calling 805-383-8739.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.