Jacqueline Avant: Murder at the Beverly Hills Mansion of the Influential Black Music Legend | Culture

Jacqueline and Clarence Avant at an awards show in Tennessee in 2016.
Jacqueline and Clarence Avant at an awards show in Tennessee in 2016.TERRY WYATT (AFP)

Beverly Hills police detained the prime suspect in the murder of Jacqueline Avant, a renowned philanthropist and wife of legendary music producer and executive Clarence Avant, within hours. The 81-year-old woman died on Wednesday in a hospital minutes after being shot in a strange incident that the authorities have not clarified, but whose main line of investigation is robbery. The death has provoked multiple reactions from the world of politics and the entertainment industry. “He inspired admiration, respect and affection. We are heartbroken, “wrote former President Bill Clinton on Twitter.

The detained subject is Aariel Maynor, 29, who has a long criminal record. The man had been sentenced to five years for robbery in 2013. He was released, but went back to offending. He received a four-year sentence for the same crime and was paroled last September. Authorities have said Maynor fled eastward in his car, something that was caught on security cameras. An hour later, police were informed of gunfire in the Hollywood Hills area, near the Griffith Observatory. When the agents arrived they found him in a garden with a shot in the foot. Police believe he injured himself while trying to break into a residence. He was holding an AR-15, an assault rifle.

“The evidence so far shows that only one suspect was involved in the crime. We are continuing to investigate to determine the motive and be able to have a successful accusation, ”said Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook, who had been in office for hours after being sworn in on Tuesday. It was an area commander on duty who made the connection between the incidents in Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills, two areas of the city that are 10 kilometers apart.

Despite the arrest, some doubts remain to be resolved. At the time of the incident, which occurred before 2:30 a.m., a security guard, in addition to Jacqueline and her husband Clarence, were present at the house. Authorities say Maynor shot him but missed. The guard did not respond to the attack. It is not known so far whether or not he was armed. There was no other injured in the altercation. Nor has it been reported if any object was stolen from the scene, although the area is experiencing an increase in these crimes. More than 130 similar robberies in the Beverly Hills area in recent months are under investigation. Press cameras caught a shattered glass door. “We will not speculate on any of the theories that are circulating, including whether this was an attempted robbery or not,” Stainbrook said.

A police officer enters the Avant property, where 81-year-old Jacqueline was murdered Wednesday.
A police officer enters the Avant property, where 81-year-old Jacqueline was murdered Wednesday.VALERIE MACON (AFP)

The Avant were an influential couple in the Hollywood entertainment industry and in the world of philanthropy. Jacqueline was recognized for her active involvement over decades in fundraising for the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) International Student Center and for her social work on behalf of black and Latino children in Watts, a poor southern neighborhood. from the city. Days before the fateful incident, Avant worked out with community activists the details of buying bicycles for minors in the area as a Christmas gift.

The marriage was also widely known among Washington political circles for their work raising funds for the campaigns of Democrats such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or former California Governor Jerry Brown, among others. Your money was very important in helping the election of Tom Bradley, the first and last African-American mayor that Los Angeles has had. Personalities like Earvin Magic Johnson or the Jackson family have lamented the murder.

Originally from Queens, New York, Jacqueline was a model in the 1960s, when she met Clarence Avant, who was the representative of the famous jazz organist Jimmy Smith. The two married in 1967 and soon after moved to the West Coast to manage the Sussex Records music label. The label became a hit when Clarence hired a Navy mechanic who in his spare time would compose and sing songs. This musician, Bill Withers, would give Sussex its first and biggest hits in the 1970s with Ain’t no Sunshine and Lean on Me. In those days, Avant also hired Sixto Rodríguez, a musician who would become world famous decades later thanks to the documentary Looking for Sugar Man. In May of this year, Clarence entered the Rock Museum of Fame.

Throughout the decades, the Avant were a couple that supported careers and talents such as Janet Jackson, R&B guitarist Denis Coffey, Sean Combs, better known as Puff Daddy and Quincy Jones, among others. His influence on the entertainment and music industry can be seen in depth in the documentary The black godfather, the nickname that Clarence earned in the industry. The film is produced by Netflix, whose number two executive, Ted Sarandos, is married to Nicole Avant, daughter of Clarence and Jacqueline. Nicole was the United States Ambassador to the Bahamas in the Obama Administration. “Jacqueline was truly an angel in the city of Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti fired her Thursday, announcing Maynor’s arrest.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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