A raging apartment fire in Westchester on Saturday triggered an arson and double-murder investigation when firefighters discovered the bodies of two women who appeared to have been shot to death before the blaze erupted.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s officials have identified one of the victims as 16-year-old Sierra Brown. The identity of the other woman, said to be in her 20s, was still being withheld at press time pending notification of her next of kin. Television news agencies have reported that the women were sisters — each with children of their own — who had recently moved in together at The Madrid Apartments on Belford Avenue, near Manchester Avenue. A coroner’s spokeswoman was not able to confirm the victims’ relationship and said autopsies are pending.
Firefighters responded to the scene at just after 9 a.m., quickly discovered the bodies and extinguished the blaze within about 20 minutes.
Lt. John Radke of the LAPD’s West Bureau Homicide Unit said Monday that police believe a white four-door 2015 Nissan Altima owned by one of the victims was stolen by a suspect or suspects in the women’s murder. The vehicle’s license plate number is 7CXN273.
“It has been reported as a stolen vehicle, and we consider the person or persons with the car to be armed and dangerous,” Radke said.
Both homicide detectives and the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Arson Unit are investigating. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call homicide investigators at (213) 382-9470 or (877) 527-3247, or provide an anonymous tip at (800) 222-TIPS or crimestoppers.org.
— Gary Walker