L.B. woman found murdered in her backyard

LONG BEACH Neighbors describe the victim as a sweet lady who never bothered anyone. Investigators are now asking the public for help as they try and hunt down her killer.

Police identified the victim as 70-year-old Rita Wiley. It was Wiley's roommate who found her body in the backyard of her home in the 1000 block of East 15th St.

Authorities received the 911 call around 1:30 a.m. When they arrived at the home in the quiet Long Beach neighborhood, they found Wiley dead. Police say she had been stabbed and suffered other injuries.

"The victim had sustained various injuries to her body including what we believe to be stab wounds. We are not certain what the cause of death is at this time," said Nancy Pratt, Long Beach Police Department.

A next door neighbor noticed a man he'd seen at the house frequently leaving the home earlier in the evening.

"I was out cleaning my car at the time and I see this guy just leave frantically from her house," said Danny Lewis, a neighbor of the victim. "The guy usually comes over here all the time, so that's basically all I saw... It was odd the way he left."

Police believe it was Wiley's roommate who found her and made the 911 call. She has been cooperating with authorities.

Several neighbors say Wiley had lived on the street for at least 30 years. They say she kept to herself.

Darlene Anderson, who used to live next door to the woman she called Miss Rita, is stunned.

"She always took care of her yard, her car, her dog, us," said Anderson. "And right now we're just devastated to find out that it's her. And right here in her own backyard."

Other neighbors say it's a close knit community.

"Most of the people around here are like family," said Toi Porter. "So, you know, that's scary and it's unusual."

Authorities don't believe neighbors have reason to fear.

"No, we don't believe there's anything like that going on, otherwise we would be concerned about the rest of the neighbors," said Lt. Rick Colbert from the Long Beach Police Department.

Anyone with information about the murder is asked to call the Long Beach Police Department at (562) 570-7244.


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