According to autopsy reports obtained by The Poly Post, Rodney Lee Hunter Jr., the campus custodian who killed security specialist Mark Manlapaz over the summer, was schizophrenic and attempted suicide multiple times prior to the incident on June 29.
The report, compiled by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, confirmed what was previously known, that Hunter stabbed Manlapaz while the security specialist sat in his car by Campus South on the 3500 block of Pomona Boulevard “for unknown reasons.” Manlapaz’s autopsy shows that he was cut and stabbed 24 times in different parts of his body by Hunter and at one point tried to exit the vehicle before being pushed back inside.
The incident attracted national headlines and occurred during a time of heightened sensitivity toward violent attacks on campus and officer-involved shootings.
According to Sgt. Howard Cooper of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau, it is “likely” that Hunter and Manlapaz were familiar with each other due to working in the same area of campus on multiple occasions and that they may well have “crossed paths” at some point. Cooper said the investigation did not conclude the nature of their interactions either positively or negatively.
In addition, no incidents or “controversies” were found between the two during the department’s investigation, according to Cooper.
Cooper said investigators “looked into” whether Hunter suffered from a hostile work environment or had problems with colleagues but found no evidence.
Hunter left the scene in his car and drove to the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies where the report describes that Hunter “approached another vehicle, punched that driver, stole his water bottle, and continued walking.” The report stated that “At some point, the suspect cut his own wrists,” after leaving the scene at Campus South.
Witnesses called for help after seeing Hunter acting strangely and two police officers, one from the Pomona Police Department and one from University Police Department, engaged Hunter at the Lyle Center. The report described the officers “yelling commands” that Hunter “ignored.”
One officer then shot at Hunter with a 223 rifle “approximately 8 times” and the other shot at Hunter with a 45-caliber handgun “4 times.” The autopsy report shows that Hunter was hit nine times in the chest, abdomen, back, hip, arm and buttock.
Hunter was a 27-year-old African American man with black hair, beard and a mustache. He also had a tattoo on his right forearm, according to the report.
Laboratory analysis of Hunter’s blood showed traces of the drugs Fluoxetine and Norfluoxetine, both anti-depressants.
According to Cooper, Hunter rented a room from a family in Pomona, less than two miles from campus. Hunter worked as a janitor at Cal Poly Pomona starting in December of 2016 at Campus South, the Lyle Center and the Farm Store.
Director of Facilities Management Mark Miller said that a number of people are involved in the hiring of employees that include members of Human Resources and Payroll along with the manager of Custodial Services, Humberto Arias.
A background check is conducted by HR and the University Police Department. In Hunter’s case, Miller said nothing was flagged in his background check.
During his time at CPP, Miller was not aware of Hunter’s medical condition.
“I have not heard that,” he said.
Cooper did not know if Hunter made his condition “public” and said no other incidents had been reported related to his condition.
Regarding his “prior suicide attempts,” Cooper said he “can’t provide any additional information.”
Public information officer for the coroner’s office Sarah Ardalani said via email that “during a coroner investigation we obtain decedent medical history,” to address how the coroner’s office knew about Hunter’s schizophrenia and suicide attempts.
Hunter worked for Arias, the manager of custodial services who said he “didn’t really know anything about that,” referring to Hunter’s schizophrenia and that “we never had any incidents … not that I’m aware of.”
Ardalani declined to release the third-party medical records to The Poly Post.
Nov. 8, 2018, 11:39 a.m.: A previous version of this story included a statement about Mark Manlapaz’s autopsy that was inaccurate and unintentionally misleading. We mistakenly reported that methamphetamine and ecstasy were found in Manlapaz’s body. That was not the case. The story has been updated.
Show Comments (6)
Posting that the victim was on meth/X was a low blow in my opinion. If the school is on board with releasing that information that degrades the victim what are they going to do about it? Are you going to implement drug tests to security and mental health screening for staff? My thought is no… it will cost you more money and actual work to do to address this issue.
Mark Manlapaz was brutally murdered at his post protecting the Cal Poly Pomona campus – yet the Poly Post chooses to publish a big smiling photo of his killer? You mention the killer’s background and living situation, where is the discussion of Mark’s life, or his years of dedicated service to the University? There is barely a mention of him except to detail the horrific wounds that killed him and infer that he was a drug user – which could not be further from the truth. It’s a disgraceful way to treat a kind, conscientious and dedicated employee. Mark deserves to be honored for his commitment to Cal Poly by a permanent and lasting memorial on campus not vilified by innuendos.
My name is Victoria and I am the Post’s managing editor.
I’d like to thank you for your feedback and I invite you to read our in memoriam article for Mr. Manlapaz that we wrote at the beginning of the semester:
It’s a discrace that you would make a murder look like the victim. Why would you post a picture of a happy smiling killer and not the heroic victim who gave his life for his community and partners? This article is a discrace and is a great example of what the media has become. After reading all these comments the poly post still chooses to leave his smiling picture. Cal poly does not back it’s employees or the University Police Department. I’m sorry to all those that have to deal with the horrible support of the poly post and the president’s office. I’m sorry you have a president who didn’t attend the funeral of one of her fallen officers and a union who refuses to help support the family and department of a fallen officer and union member. The university should be sued for not protecting their employees.
So Victoria and David, will you send out a formal apology for writing an inaccurate article? If you didn’t plan on doing so, you probably should. Just a suggestion.
Thank you for this article. Rodney was my dear friend and that picture is an accurate representation of how I knew him. I’m sorry for the family and friends of Mr. Manlapaz. He did not deserve to be murdered. I’m not going to excuse that. I just know that my friend was actively getting help and was on medication for his issues, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough. Mental health issues made him a victim to himself. Condolences to all those effected, including the campus community.