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Huntington Park vitamin shop worker likely suffocated after being bound, gagged

March 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
An employee at a Huntington Park vitamin shop likely suffocated to death after being bound and gagged during a robbery, police said.

The woman was found at about 6 p.m. Thursday in the back room of Global Nature, a vitamin store on the 2700 block of East Florence Avenue. Police received several 911 calls from store customers who said no employees were at the register and sensed something was awry.

Responding officers found the register's cash drawer open, which led detectives to investigate the case as a robbery. Officials also noted that the suspect likely entered through the front door, as the back door was found locked.

Authorities say the store is not equipped with surveillance cameras, and so far, it doesn't appear that any of the outdoor cameras from neighboring businesses captured anything significant.

Police say they have very little information about the suspect other than he or she was willing to commit the brazen crime at a time when the neighborhood was bustling with pedestrians and car traffic. For this reason, authorities are hopeful and confident that someone has information that may lead them to the suspect.

"I believe somebody saw something. We had 10 customers that were coming in and out. We still need to re-interview them and also canvas the area again. We do have people coming forward and giving us information," said Huntington Park police Det. Sgt. David Cassidy.

Coroner's officials arrived Friday morning to remove the body. The woman's identity was not released pending notification of kin, but authorities described her as a Hispanic woman in her 30s.

Authorities said this crime is very unusual for the area, since most robbers use a handgun, demand money and leave.

Area business owners were shaken up by the killing.

"It feels very bad because we have business and we don't feel secure, so we won't be able to attract more business if things are happening. So we want to be more safe in the area," said Fred Malger, an area business owner.

If you have any information regarding this incident, you're urged to contact the Huntington Park Police Department at (323) 584-6254.

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