Police Seek ‘Person of Interest’ After 54-Year-Old Woman Is Found Dead in Whittier

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Police on Tuesday are looking for a man who is considered a "person of interest" in the "suspicious" death investigation of a woman.

Rafael Castillo is seen in a photo released by Whittier police on Sept. 12, 2017.

Rafael Castillo is seen in a photo released by Whittier police on Sept. 12, 2017.

The woman was found unresponsive after officers were dispatched to a "man down" call in the 11700 block of Floral Avenue around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to a post on the Whittier Police Department's Facebook page. She was pronounced dead at the scene, the post stated.

Officials say that firefighters had first responded to an assault or abuse call at the home, before police officers later arrived and launched a suspicious death investigation.

As detectives investigated the death, police announced they have identified 56-year-old Rafael Castillo as a person of interest in the case.

The woman who died has been identified by the local coroner as 54-year-old Sandra Polanco.

Authorities have not released a cause of death, saying only it is being investigated as suspicious.

Whittier police released this photo of a car being sought in the case.

They would not elaborate on his relationship to the victim except to say they knew each other.

However, neighbors told KTLA the two were actually a couple who lived together.

One neighbor, Guillermo Cedno, said that Castillo "seemed like a nice guy." He said Castillo reached out to him when Cedno first moved in, and once offered him a generous slab of meat during Fourth of July celebrations.

"He introduced himself when I first moved in," Cedno said. "He said, 'I live right here in the front. If you ever need anything — I'm here.'"

Another neighbor told KTLA she was friends with Polanco, describing her as a "caring" woman with a sense of humor.

"We're all very close in this complex," she said, saying of Polanco: "She was really funny, a really nice person, very caring."

Castillo is described by police as Hispanic, 5 feet 11 inches, weighing 220 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He may be driving a 1998 Nissan Altima with license plate No. 6XEW444.

He has ties to Whittier and Reseda, officials said.

Homicide detectives spent the day combing through the victim's house and taking evidence away from the scene, video showed.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Whittier police's Investigation Bureau at 562 567-9283 or Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

KTLA's Cindy Von Quednow contributed to this story.