"Shield" Star Held on $1M Bail in Wife's Shooting Death

Michael Jace booked on suspicion of murder after wife found shot to death in LA home

By Kelly Goff and Toni Guinyard
|  Tuesday, May 20, 2014  |  Updated 11:52 PM EDT
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Actor Michael Jace was arrested on suspicion of killing his wife, April, in their home. Lolita Lopez reports from View Park for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

Lolita Lopez/Tom Bravo/Beth Slepp-Paz

Actor Michael Jace was arrested on suspicion of killing his wife, April, in their home. Lolita Lopez reports from View Park for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

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Detective Describes What Officers Found at Jace Home

LAPD detective Sal LaBarbera provides an update on the investigation involving "The Shield" actor Michael Jace, arrested on suspicion of murder in his wife's death.

"The Shield" Actor Arrested on Suspicion of Murder in Wife's Death

Actor Michael Jace was arrested on suspicion of murder after his wife, April, was found shot to death in their Los Angeles home.
More Photos and Videos

Actor Michael Jace, best known for portraying a Los Angeles police officer in the hit TV show "The Shield," was arrested early Tuesday on suspicion of fatally shooting his wife, April, after calling 911 and telling an operator that he shot her, police said.

Jace, 51, was arrested about 3 a.m., according to Los Angeles police Detective Lyman Doster. He was booked into jail on suspicion of murder with bail set at $1 million.

Los Angeles police Detective Dean Vinluan told the Associated Press that a printout of the incident history indicated that Jace called 911 and told the operator that he shot his wife.

The body of April Jace, 40, was found after 8:30 p.m. Monday with multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body in a hallway at the couple's home in the 5400 block of Brynhurst Avenue.

Neighbors reported hearing arguing coming from thehome moments before gunfire, police said. The home is in Hyde Park, about 10 miles southwest of downtown LA.

Police said the couple's two children -- both under age 10 -- were in the home at the time. They were with family members, police said.

"It's a grieving process for both children," LaBarbera said. "They're without their mom and their dad is in jail for the murder of their mother."

Michael Jace met arriving officers at his home, said LAPD Detective Sal LaBarbera.

Police said the killing was a case of domestic violence.

Jace and his wife have been married for nine years, LaBarbera said.

According to April Jace's Facebook page, the couple would have celebrated their 11th anniversary next month.

She had posted multiple photos of her children, her family, friends and an anniversary photo taken last year of her and Michael Jace sitting and smiling at a table with a caption that read, "Happy 10 year anniversary to us."

April Jace worked at Biola University in La Mirada as a counselor in their financial aid office.

"We are obviously shocked and saddened by this terrible news, to lose a wonderful colleague, mother and friend," said Biola President Barry H. Corey. "Our community is in prayer for April's family and the Financial Aid Office as they deal with the shock of this tragedy. The Financial Aid Office will be closed all day on Tuesday, May 20, 2014."

Geoff Marsh, senior director of financial aid for the university, said April Jace's "love for helping students and families with her great work ethic earned the respect and love of her coworkers. Her smiling face and helpful spirit will be missed by all."

Biola's Assistant Director of Public Relations Brenda Velasco said that April Jace began working at Biola in March 2013.

"April was friendly, helpful, and made a lot of friends who cared a lot about her," Velasco said.

Jace is best known for his role as LAPD Officer Julien Lowe in "The Shield."

He has also appeared in such films as "Forrest Gump," "Boogie Nights" and "Planet of the Apes."

He was previously married to Jennifer Bitterman but the couple divorced in 2002.

Accusations of domestic violence against Jace first surfaced 20 years ago in a bitter divorce and child custody battle with Bitterman.

In court documents, a friend of Bitterman named Maria De La Vega testified about a violent altercation she witnessed in August of 1996.

"(Jace) choked and hit (Bitterman) and slammed her against the wall" while the couple's infant son screamed in his crib.

"(Jace) was raging out of control and seeing the extent of his anger was one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen," said De La Vega, who went on to say Bitterman’s family and friends were concerned for her safety.

"I recall that over the next year, there were at least three more incidents where (Jace) physically assaulted (Bitterman)."

In other documents in the divorce, Jace seems to admit the couple had physical altercations, but testified, "I vigorously dispute her recollections of events.

"We were both guilty of overstepping physical boundaries."

Jace filed for bankruptcy in 2011, citing debts of more than $500,000.

A neighbor told the paper that the actor had struggled to find steady work since "The Shield" ended its run in 2008.

Neighbors describe a loving family.

"I didn’t know nothing was going on. I just thought they was the perfect family. That's why I'm so shocked, I guess," Hazel Royal said.

One neighbor described the family as "the Huxtables on the block," referring to the family featured in "The Cosby Show."

Beverly White and Keith Esparros contributed to this report.

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