LA Forensics: The Chinatown Widow
The Scene of the Crime
Donna lived on the fringes of downtown Los Angeles, in an apartment complex below Dodger Stadium. It was at the base of Elysian Park, an area dotted with middle class residences but home to several gangs as well. Her neighborhood was one of the nicer ones. Her late husband had been involved in real estate before he died. He had owned property in neighboring Chinatown, in addition to the apartment building where Donna lived.
The apartment was a tri-level structure with a garage on the ground floor, the main living area on the second floor and bedrooms above that. One could enter the apartment through the garage or through one of two doors on the second floor: the front door or a sliding glass door.
Someone had entered through the sliding glass door, where a barely discernable L-shape was cut in the screen in the bottom right hand corner. Just inside this entrance was the living room. A telephone sat on the coffee table, the cord cut. Off to the side were a kitchen, a dining room and a small office from which Donna ran her apartment rental business. One of the drawers contained about $300, highly unusual if this had been a routine burglary. Nothing had been disturbed in that room.
Upstairs were two small bedrooms and the master. In one of the smaller rooms, a miniature safe that served as a piggy bank was in the center of the bed, its coins scattered about. The rest of the room had been ransacked — nightstand drawers had been emptied and someone had taken jewelry from the room, along with a handgun.