Watch CBS News

Investigation launched after woman in her 80s found dead inside burnt home in Woodland Hills

Search for suspect continues in wake of 81-year-old woman's killing in Woodland Hills
Search for suspect continues in wake of 81-year-old woman's killing in Woodland Hills 02:11

A death investigation was underway in Woodland Hills early Wednesday morning, after a woman in her 80s was found dead inside of her home.

According to investigators at the scene on W. Martha Street, the 81-year-old woman was located by relatives on Tuesday evening at around 7:45 p.m. — up to 12 hours after she died.


Units from both Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments rushed to the scene, due to "evidence of a fire," forced entry and belief that the home had been ransacked. They suspect that she was killed sometime between midnight and 8 a.m. Tuesday. 

"Upon arrival, the officers observed evidence of forced entry and of a possible burglary," LAPD Officer Annie Hernandez said in a statement. "Officers located the victim in her bedroom, laying on the ground, and half her body under her bed. She was semi-charred, unconscious and not breathing."

The fire was already out by the time firefighters arrived.

The woman was identified as Ok Ja Kim. Authorities have yet to specify a cause of death.

Police believe that foul play was involved in the incident, noting the forced entry and signs of a struggle. They believe that the woman was killed by the suspect, who then lit a fire in an attempt to cover up the crime, though they were unsure as the investigation continued. 

The incident has neighbors on high alert. 

"It's very unsettling," said Monica Rollins, who lives nearby. "We have a lot of elderly people here too. ... I just assumed maybe somebody slipped and fell."

The fact that so many older folk live in the area has authorities under the impression that Kim may have been targeted. 

"From what I've heard there's a lot of elderly residents that live in this neighborhood," said LAPD Detective Sharon Kim. "A lot of criminals sometimes will target elderly people because they're easy victims."

There was no information immediately available on the suspect, though officers were checking with others who lives nearby in hopes of finding leads via home surveillance footage.

Kim also noted that they're hoping any residents who have noticed an unusual person in the area would come forward, which "could include anything from solicitors knocking on doors, any suspicious activity, people coming around and asking for strange services or just knocking on your door to see if anyone's home," Kim continued.

"I always assume the best from people but after situations like this you have to be a little more skeptical," added Rollings. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.