Woman's Body Found in Car Trunk, Victim's Son Arrested

Family members called authorities after reporting a "strong odor" coming from the victim's garage

The 43-year-old son of a woman whose bound body was found Thursday in the trunk of a vehicle has been booked on suspicion of murder.

Clifton Huang is being held in lieu of $2 million bail in the death of his mother, 63-year-old Vilma Chau. Her body, with hands and feet bound, was found in the trunk of her vehicle in the garage of her Hacienda Heights home in the 15000 block of Las Tunas Drive.

The cause of death will be determined after an investigation by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.

Huang was cooperating with authorities initially, but his demeanor changed when investigators turned their attention to him as a suspect, according to homicide detectives.

"Initially he was cooperative but as we started to focus on him as a possible suspect, he became elusive and uncooperative," said Lt. Mike Rosson, with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department homicide bureau.

Huang may suffer from mental illness, according to authorities.

"He does, from my understanding, take medication for, I believe, for bipolar condition," Rosson said. "I'm sure not an expert, but that will come out as we further the investigation."

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Huang lived in a house in Hacienda Heights not far from his mother's home. He often exhibited strange and erratic behavior, neighbors said.

"He was screaming and yelling and jumping up and down," said Mike Palmer, who witnessed such behavior from his neighbor on the Fourth of July. "He was screaming at the people lighting their fireworks, jumping up and down."

Another neighbor said he often talks to himself outside.

"He'll close up his garage, open it, really weird stuff. He lit his car on fire and it rolled and hit the wall back there," Ruby Torres said.

"He's not a bad person. He just needs help. He needed someone to make him take medication," she added.

Family members who had not heard from the victim for days called authorities to the home. The family members reported a "strong odor" coming from the garage.

Huang was detained Thursday on a possible probation violation. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department issued a statement Friday to confirm he had been arrested in connection with the slaying.

Hacienda Heights is about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Anyone with information about the case can contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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