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'Sons of Anarchy' actor dead in Hollywood murder mystery

3:18 PM, Sep 27, 2012   |    comments
'Sons of Anarchy' acator Johnny Lewis died Sept. 27, 2012 in Los Angeles at the age of 28. (CNN)
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LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Investigators believe "Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis brutally killed his elderly landlord Wednesday before falling to his death as he tried to escape police whose sirens he heard approaching.

A large pool of blood where Lewis' head crashed onto the pavement remained Thursday in the driveway of a house that has been the temporary home for actors and producers visiting Los Angeles to make movies for decades.

PHOTOS | Notable deaths in 2012

Lewis, 28, whose acting resume included "The O.C." and "Criminal Minds," appeared dead when the first officer arrived at the home in the Los Feliz neighborhood near Griffith Park, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said Thursday.

The officer went inside the large house where neighbors reported hearing screams from a woman and glass breaking, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said Thursday. The house "appeared to have been ransacked," with furniture broken.

Katherine Davis, its 81-year-old owner, was found dead on the second floor of the three level house in a "gruesome scene" police said. Her cat was found dead nearby, Commander Smith said.

The owner of the home next door and a painter working there were attacked by Lewis before his fatal fall, Smith said. Their facial injuries were minor, he said.

Police suspect drugs may have been involved, but "we don't have any hard evidence that says he was on anything right now," Smith said.

The toxicology report from the autopsy that the Los Angeles County coroner was conducting on Lewis Thursday would be crucial to determining if the actor was under the influence of drugs, Smith said.

"After 'bath salts,' new drugs are coming out all the time and young people try new drugs all the time," Smith said. "That's, of course, one of the things that our detectives are going to look into, whether he was using that or anything else."

Lewis lived in the home, which is on a winding, narrow residential street on a hillside on the eastern edge of Hollywood, about two weeks, Smith said.

Lewis is credited with playing Kip "Half Sack" Epps in 26 episodes of "Sons of Anarchy" in the FX Network drama's first two seasons, according to the Internet Movie Database. His character was killed off in the finale of season two.

"Sons" creator Kurt Sutter, in an extended Twitter posting Thursday, called Lewis' death "a tragic end for an extremely talented guy, who unfortunately had lost his way."

"I wish I could say that I was shocked by the events last night, but I was not," Sutter's tweet said. "I am deeply sorry that an innocent life had to be thrown into his destructive path. Yes, it's day of mourning, but it's also a day of awareness and gratitude. Sadly, some of us carry the message by dying."

This week's episode of "Sons of Anarchy," a series based on a violent motorcycle gang with graphic violence, included the death of "Opie," a major character.

Sutter's Twitter posting noted "the sad irony of it happening two days after opie's death is not lost on me."

Sutter told TV writer Alan Sepinwall in an interview published in December 2009 that "Johnny wasn't happy on the show."

"Creatively, he really wanted out of his contract," Sutter told Sepinwell. "We had ongoing conversations, and we decided we'd find some noble way for him to go."

Lewis played Dennis "Chili" Childress in nine episodes of "The O.C." in 2005 and 2006, according to IMDb.com.

His last work was in an independent movie, "186 Dollars to Get Out," which was scheduled to release this month, the IMDb.com listings said.

Lewis -- whose full name is Jonathan Kendrick Lewis -- was born and raised in Los Angeles, although he holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, according to his IMDb biography.

Davis, who lived in the home for decades, "typically rented to people in the movie industry, writers and actors, and they would come up here because it's a wonderful, quiet neighborhood," Smith said.

David Thoresen, who has been service the home's garden fountain for five years, said Davis was a small woman, standing no more than 5-feet, 3-inches tall.

"She was the happiest, nicest lady I ever met in my life," Thoresen said. "I loved Kathy."

(CNN)

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