After Fire, LAPD’s Elite Robbery-Homicide Division Investigating UCLA Student’s Death

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LAPD detectives were handing out fliers in Westwood Tuesday, asking for help with a homicide investigation into the death of a woman found inside a burning apartment the previous morning.

A young woman reacts after another woman is found dead in a fire in Westwood on Sept. 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

A young woman reacts after another woman is found dead in a fire in Westwood on Sept. 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

The victim, believed to be a UCLA student, was discovered shortly after firefighters responded to a two-story apartment building popular with students in the sorority Pi Beta Phi. Smoke was pouring from the structure, and the woman's body was found inside.

Neighbors said the victim was a student and member of the sorority, and the UCLA chapter’s Facebook page included comments expressing sorrow and condolences.

“She was a nice sorority girl, had lots of friends, down to earth,” a student who knew the victim told KTLA Monday night.

The campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, reported the victim was a fourth-year student majoring in Spanish and psychology.

Investigators on Sept. 22, 2015, walk into a building where a woman was found dead after a fire near UCLA. (Credit: KTLA)

Investigators on Sept. 22, 2015, walk into a building where a woman was found dead after a fire near UCLA. (Credit: KTLA)

On Tuesday, at least three detectives canvassed the North Village area of Westwood, handing out fliers that said the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division was investigating the death in the 10900 block of Roebling Avenue.

Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area between 4:30 and 7:05 a.m. was asked to call the division, which handles high-profile cases.

On Monday night, the university’s chancellor expressed condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

“UCLA is a close-knit community, and this tragic event affects us all,” said Chancellor Gene Block.

Investigators gathered outside UCLA's Pi Beta Phi Sorority house in Westwood on Sept. 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Investigators gathered outside UCLA's Pi Beta Phi Sorority house in Westwood on Sept. 21, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Grief counselors were available, he said.

UCLA did not identify the student, pending positive identification of the body.

The process to identify the victim could take some time because her body was badly burned, a coroner’s office spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Fire Department arson investigators were working to determine the cause of the fire.

It wasn't known if the victim was killed by the fire. A Fire Department statement noted that the apartment did not have bars or security screens that would have prevented the victim from escaping the flames.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division’s Homicide Special Section at 213-486-6890 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, or call Crime Stoppers any time at 800-222-8477.