A motive remained unclear Saturday after police announced an arrest in the death of a 76-year-old found stabbed, beaten and strangled in her backyard in Arcadia nearly two weeks ago.
Heber Enoc Diaz, 27, of Pasadena, was booked into jail on suspicion of murder in the killing of Chyong Jen Tsai, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Saturday. Diaz is being held without bail.
Construction workers hired to remodel her home in the 300 block of East Forest Avenue found her body on the lawn on April 9, Sgt. Richard Biddle said. She was still alive the previous evening, according to investigators, so they believe she might have been killed overnight.
The cause of Tsai’s death was initially unclear, but an autopsy later determined that she was asphyxiated and sustained injuries from “sharp force” and blunt trauma.
Her missing Lexus was recovered on 900 Colorado Blvd. on Thursday night, the Sheriff’s Department said. The next morning, at around 10:30 a.m., detectives found Diaz leaving his home in Pasadena, officials said.
The death stunned the victim’s neighbors, who described her as a wife, mother and grandmother whose husband was out of the country at the time of the crime.
Tsai’s home was burglarized on March 19, and police have not ruled out a connection between that incident and her death, Pasadena Star-News reported.
“They broke in and took the tools of the contractor,” neighbor Diana Leach told KTLA.
Their dog was found at the residence unharmed.
Authorities previously announced a $20,000 reward for information in the case.
Investigators have not released details about a possible motive.