2 leap to death at Los Angeles hotel as policemen break into their room

November 03, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Two men -- one of whom was wanted in the brutal murder of a University of Texas freshman -- jumped to their deaths from a Hollywood hotel before dawn yesterday morning, just as police broke into their hotel room, authorities said.

Matthew Novatny, 22, and Jason Smith, 19, were pronounced dead on the pavement where they fell. Mr. Novatny was being sought by police in Austin, Texas, as a suspect in the Oct. 19 murder of Tiffani Bruce, an 18-year-old fashion and design major at the University of Texas.

Mr. Novatny and Mr. Smith fled to the Los Angeles area from Texas several days ago in an effort to elude a nationwide manhunt, Austin, Texas, police said. Early yesterday

morning, they made a telephone call from their room at the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard to a friend in Austin.

Lt. Juan Gonzalez of the Austin police said that Austin authorities were able to trace the call to West Hollywood and notified Los Angeles police. As police tried to break into the hotel room on the 12th floor, Mr. Novatny and Mr. Smith apparently leaped out the window, authorities said.

Austin police tied Mr. Novatny to Ms. Bruce's murder by finding what they said was his palm print in the dead woman's blood. Ms. Bruce's bound-and-gagged body was found at her off-campus home in Austin. She had been shot in the chest and head.

It was not yet clear whether Mr. Smith had any role in the murder.

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