LA Forensics: The Chinatown Widow
Editor's Note: The names of the victims in this story have been changed to protect their identities.
LOS ANGELES (Crime Library) — For Donna Li, Nov. 19, 1982 began as a peaceful, celebratory evening. She had gone out to dinner with her two grown children because it was her daughter Alice's birthday. Then, back home, Alice set Donna's hair in curlers and went back out for more birthday partying. Son John went to church. It was 7 p.m.
John returned several hours later with his fiancée Marilyn; the house was quiet. Expecting Donna to be asleep upstairs, the couple played a board game on the coffee table in the living room. Later, John drove Marilyn to back to her house, then returned home. As he walked upstairs toward his bedroom, he stopped in horror at an incredible sight.
His 55-year-old, 100-pound mother lay nude except for a robe that was on one arm. She was face down on the floor, her curlers strewn about. A red silk scarf was tied around her neck, the long ends dangling down her bare back. Blood covered parts of her body as it dripped from a head wound, making a thin path toward the master bedroom and stopping in front of the bed. All this evidence pointed toward a sexual assault before Donna was strangled in the hallway.
"The fact that it's an older woman who is essentially defenseless, she's strangled, she's sexually assaulted. It just boggles the mind that somebody would do that to a woman that really had no enemies in the world," said Los Angeles police Detective Robert Bub.