Los Angeles

“A Big, Beautiful Spirit”: $50K Reward in Unsolved Slaying of Former Judge's Widow

Friends and neighbors were shocked at her death, remembering her as a generous benefactor

The slaying of an 86-year-old widow of a one-time Los Angeles Superior Court judge remains unsolved months after her death, and a $50,000 reward is being offered to find her killer.

Antonia Maria Yager was found stabbed to death in her bed about 7:25 p.m. on Dec. 22, 2014, at her home in upscale Windsor Square, about a half-block from Larchmont Village, officials said.

Friends said Yager had been at a charity dinner the night before she was found dead.

"I went into complete and utter shock over this because it was incredible. First of all, we just left her, and it was such a lovely evening, and then this horrible tragedy happened," friend Tricia Cardinale said. "Just heartbreaking."

A caretaker found the body during a routine visit to the home in the 100 block of North Beachwood Drive, police said.

"We're baffled," friend John Franklin said. "She was the nicest lady in the world. This should happen to nobody ... She lived in a big beautiful house, and she had a big beautiful spirit."

A reward on Thursday was announced by LA City Councilman Tom LaBonge and LAPD investigators, who described the woman as active for her age.

"She took care of herself, (she) liked to drive around and run her errands every day, so (this was) a big surprise," LAPD Lt. John Radtke said.

Yager's friends and neighbors were shocked at her death, remembering her as a generous benefactor of the Assistance League of Los Angeles. She had no children and no family in Los Angeles.

"We have evidence that would show that she was awake that morning, including breakfast that was had and some other things that would to lead us to believe that she was out that morning even though the last person to see her was the night before,'' LAPD Detective Kevin Pierce said.

The victim had been a widow since 2008, when Thomas Yager died at the age of 90. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court bench in 1958 and retired in 1978.

"She was loved by many, many, many people, and when someone is loved and lives alone and is in their 80s, and some bad person comes across their way and commits an act of murder, it's a bigger sin than anything else," LaBonge said.

Friends said the woman got a "threatening letter" about eight months ago that she put aside, but detectives said they ruled out the sender of the letter because he was in another state.

Anyone with information about the killing should call the LAPD's West Bureau Homicide Division at 213-382-9470. Anonymous tips can be provided by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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