On Christmas Eve 2011, Eva Tice was brutally slain on San Pedro’s Pacific Avenue on her way home from church.
The 60-year-old woman was mentally disabled, and people who knew her remember her as always smiling, happy and eager to help. Now, they hope that by telling her story, her killer will finally be caught.
It's not hard to figure out why people were drawn to Eva Tice.
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“‘Can I help, can I help?’ Always wanted to help,” said friend Becky Aldape, who works as an administrative assistant for Hope Chapel, where Tice went to church. “I think if she thought she could go up there and preach, she would.”
Tice was a devoted volunteer at the church, and had left Hope Chapel to walk home around 7 p.m. Dec. 24, 2011.
A woman called 911 when she discovered Tice’s body.
“Oh my gosh, I’m on 11th and Pacific. There’s a lady on the floor. She’s on the floor and there’s a puddle of blood by her head. Please, please,” the caller desperately told the dispatcher.
She had been stabbed 11 times.
“It definitely seemed to be, like, some type of rage with the person who did this to her,” said David Cortez, a homicide detective with LAPD’s Harbor division.
“I can't remember any type of robbery being as brutal as this one,” he said.
Friends were horrified.
“It was like you killed a child. It wasn't like you killed a 60 year old woman, you killed a child,” Aldape said. “A very beloved child.”
Cortez said investigators came to understand that Tice had the mental capacity of an 8- to 10-year-old child.
“She was the innocent of the innocent,” Aldape said.
Nearly four years later, the case haunts Cortez.
“You really do ask yourself that question, who would want to hurt a lady like this?” he said.
“It always seems to bother you a little more when it is a child that was hurt, or an elderly person. Because they are so defenseless — in this specific case, you have both,” Cortez said.
The motive remains unclear. At first, detectives thought Eva may have been robbed, but the only thing she had with her that night was found right beside her as she died — her Bible
“They opened it up and there was a picture of Eva in there with the same smile that she always had. Looks like she wrote her own name in her own writing there,” Cortez said.
That Bible now sits on Detective Cortez’ desk, a constant and personal reminder of her unsolved murder.
“She carried her Bible. This was her sense of belonging,” he said. “You want to keep the memory of her.”
Tice had no immediate family, and now the 25-year veteran officer has become her most determined advocate.
Cortez has now shared surveillance video that shows Eva Tice walking home from church that night. There is a picture of a person walking behind her moments before the stabbing.
“She only got two blocks from the church and that's what really hurts,” said her friend Becky Aldape.
Leads have led nowhere, and detectives hoping the tape will help identify suspects — or at least compel someone who knows something to come forward.
“Somebody will watch this and have courage and have a heart for Eva,” Cortez said of his hope.
Aldape said she hopes for the same thing.
“If you know what happened and you didn't say anything, I think you're just as guilty as that person,” she said.
Eva Tice's friends are not giving up hope. Detectives are also leaning on faith to bring her killer to justice.
“There's actually a scripture in Numbers, verse 3223, and it says you can be sure your sins will find you out — I really believe that he will be held accountable.”
For leads please call Detective David Cortez at (310) 726-7889