IE woman drove for hours with murdered in-law

RIALTO, Calif. The Rialto Police Dept. received a report Sunday of a homicide from a woman calling from Washington state.

The caller told police that her sister, Sandra Kotz, had informed her that Kotz had shot 58-year-old Ellen Bayless, a sister-in-law of the two. The caller informed police that Kotz had been driving around with Bayless's body in the car for several hours, according to police.

"She's very loving and she's very giving and she likes helping out people," said Ashlee Bayless, the victim's daughter. "She always helps us out and everything. I just love my mommy. She was a good person."

"She gave her a place to stay for a month, and then she ended up shooting her," said Jonathan Azcarte, Ashlee's boyfriend.

Police suspect Kotz shot Bayless shortly after midnight near Yucaipa, near Bayless's home.

Investigators say Kotz, a transient, was seeking help from Bayless when, for some reason, the two got into an altercation.

Police say Bayless was sitting in the passenger seat of her Dodge Neon when she was shot by Kotz.

"We got a call from a woman from Washington state on the telephone who notified the police department, stating that her sister, Sandra, called her and told her that she had shot their sister-in-law, Ms. Ellen Bayless, and had been driving around for several hours with Ms. Bayless in the car," said Rialto Police Lt. Joe Cirilo.

It was just after 2:30 a.m. when police eventually found a distraught-looking Kotz sitting on a curb on the 500 block of South Joyce St.

The alleged murder weapon was in a nearby handbag. The car was parked about 200 yards away in an empty field. Bayless's body was still inside.

Bayless had an apparent gunshot wound to the abdomen. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kotz was arrested and booked on a murder charge.

"There was some type of accelerant inside the car," said Cirilo. "Now, it wasn't gasoline, it wasn't poured all over, it was just something in the car that prompted us to believe, that led us to believe that maybe there was something else going on, that maybe there was an attempt to torch the car."

Police believe Kotz had driven to Rialto to meet up with someone; who that person was is unknown at this time.

Authorities are asking for the public's help in the case. If you have information related to this case, please call Rialto Police at (909) 820-2550.

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