GARDEN GROVE, California. – A homeless man found dead with three others in a parked van outside a Southern California strip mall, had a long criminal history, including convictions for conspiracy to murder and child abuse, authorities said Saturday.
Phunyouphone Kanyavong, a woman, presumably his girlfriend and their two young children were found dead in their pajamas Thursday night in a van with blankets covered the windows in the city of Garden Grove, police said.
The cause of their death is under investigation, but with no signs of obvious trauma, police Lt. Carl Whitney said authorities suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
The children appeared to be less than 2 years and were still in diapers, Whitney said. The authorities said that they believe that they know the identity of the three who have died Kanyavong but will not release their names until they are confirmed by means of DNA and fingerprints.
Kanyavong, 41, was on trial for 2015 weapons conviction, Whitney said. His problems with the law date back to when he was a teenager.
In 1993, Kanyavong was convicted of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to more than ten years in prison, said Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
He got a court-ordered dismissal of the following year, but state records do not why, Waters said.
He pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and misdemeanor battery in 2010, according to the online records for Orange County Superior Court. He pleaded guilty to carrying a dirk or dagger in 2015, the records show.
The Orange County Probation Department was at the height Kanyavong was homeless, spokeswoman Jennifer Palmquist said. They said that they do not know whether the agency knew about his children.
“If they know that they probably would have called social services. That is our normal protocol,” Palmquist said. “Unfortunately, a lot of times, the fact that people don’t want people messing in their lives, often, or sometimes they are just too proud to ask for help — most of the cases fall into two categories.”
The deaths come as Southern California and many West Coast cities are struggling with an increase in homelessness in the midst of rising housing costs.
A message for the province of the Social Services of the Agency not immediately returned.
Police found the victims after a woman reported a foul smell coming from the van in the strip mall that houses a CVS store, tea house and a pizza shop in a busy intersection at approximately 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Los Angeles.
The police said witnesses said that the victims had to live and sleep in the van on the nearby parks and shopping malls.