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Elderly hotel manager murdered in Little Tokyo

January 6, 2010 12:07:51 AM PST
Police were searching the Little Tokyo area Wednesday for clues to the murder of an elderly manager of a downtown hotel. The Chetwood Hotel, located at 411 East 4th Street, caters to Japanese tourists visiting Los Angeles.Los Angeles Police Department investigators were at the scene Wednesday evening interviewing people in the area in the search for a murder suspect.

The victim was discovered in her office. Los Angeles Police detectives wouldn't say how she was killed, but would only confirm there was no gun used and it appeared no one had heard anything.

"Yesterday about 11:30, a patron of the hotel, the Chetwood Hotel, just outside the Toy District, discovered the manager in her second-floor office bleeding on the floor," said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon. "She was taken to the County USC Medical Center, where she died a short time later."

The victim is 74-year-old Hideko Oyama. She was the hotel manager and lived there for the last four years.

The small, three-story hotel caters to Asian tourists, but some people live there.

One full-time resident, who did not want to be identified, spoke on camera. When asked if the Oyama was a nice person, the unidentified resident said, "Actually, no. No, she was not." Asked if he thought Oyama may have upset someone, he replied, "I guess so. I guess so."

Investigators say this is unusual. The hotel rarely has any calls for police. Overall crime in downtown Los Angeles is down dramatically, with five homicides committed in 2009.

"It's a business area, so I hope that we shouldn't have these things happen here, especially in the daytime," said Zack Khan, owner of a nearby business. "At least in the daytime, it's safe. It's not as safe in the nighttime."

Investigators believe the murder is an isolated incident, not a random crime. They say they have good leads but can't give out any more information.

"The detectives have made tremendous progress over the last 24 hours in this murder, and they have focused their investigation in a particular direction, but I can't give any more information other than that," said Vernon.

If you have information related to this case, you're asked to call the Los Angeles Police Dept. at (877) LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).