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Elderly Woman Found Dead Under Bed Of Burned California Home Prompts Murder Investigation
Police are appealing to the public for information leading to the arrest of the suspect or suspects responsible for killing 81-year-old Ok Ja Kim in her Woodland Hills home during what appears to be a burglary gone wrong.
Police are searching for who killed an elderly woman in her Los Angeles home in what appears to be a burglary gone wrong.
Topanga Area Patrol Officers responded to reports of a dead body and possible arson at a Woodland Hills residence at around 7:40 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a press statement from the LAPD. Inside, authorities found the partially burned body of 81-year-old resident Ok Ja Kim.
Officer Tony Im of the LAPD said Kim lived alone at the West Martha Street home, according to ABC Los Angeles affiliate KABC-TV. Investigators believe she was killed sometime between Monday morning and Tuesday evening.
“Officers located the victim in her bedroom, laying on the ground, and half her body under her bed,” said police. “She was semi-charred, unconscious, and not breathing.”
Firefighters pronounced Kim dead on the scene. A cause of death has yet to be determined.
One of Kim’s family members alerted authorities after discovering Kim’s body and “evidence of a fire,” according to police. At that point, the fire had been extinguished.
Authorities believe the suspect closed the door to Kim’s bedroom after them, preventing the fire from spreading to the rest of the home, according to their preliminary findings, as cited by Fox Los Angeles affiliate KTTV.
Officials noted “evidence of forced entry,” noting a “possible burglary,” calling on multiple units to respond to the scene, including the Robbery-Homicide Division, arson units with the Los Angeles Fire Department, and homicide investigators with the Valley Bureau.
LAPD Detective Sharon Kim spoke to reporters from the scene, urging residents to remain vigilant, according to KABC.
“There’s a lot of elderly residents that live in this neighborhood, retired and such,” she said. So a lot of criminals will sometimes target elderly people because they’re easy victims.”
Det. Kim, who, like the victim, is of Korean descent, told reporters that elderly people in their culture are generally known to carry large amounts of cash, nodding to a possible motive in the case, according to KTTV.
She also addressed concerns about the surrounding homeless community.
“I have noticed that there is a large transient population in this neighborhood, and we’re not sure if that might be related, but that’s something we all have to be aware of when we’re coming from and going to our homes,” Det. Kim stated.
Det. Kim referred to the neighborhood as “upper middle class,” adding homicides were “unusual" for the area.
So far, police have no details about a potential suspect or suspects in the case and are appealing to the public for help. Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Steve Castro of the LAPD’s Valley Bureau Homicide Unit at 1-818-374-1925.
Those wishing to remain anonymous can also submit their tips to LA Crime Stoppers.