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97-year-old woman beaten to death

May 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
In Oakland, a 97-year-old woman was murdered. She was beaten to death inside her home on Lee Street, near Lake Merritt. The victim is apparently the oldest homicide victim ever in Oakland.

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"She was not quite five feet tall, 97-years of age and very frail. So it's just horrible," says on-site apartment manager Hervene Spurrier.

Spurrier can't believe what happened to one of the condo owners in her building. Police say 97-year-old Ivarene Beatrice Lett was found beaten to death in her sixth floor condo Monday night. This murder is alarming residents of the building and people who live in the Adams Point neighborhood.

"I've lived in and around this neighborhood for many, many years. My wife runs around Lake Merritt for 20 plus years and has never had a problem," says Andrew Fairbanks, a neighbor.

Lett is believed to be Oakland's oldest homicide victim. Her family was seen leaving the building late Tuesday afternoon and declined to comment. As to who may be responsible and what a possible motive may be, police aren't saying. They're also not saying how long she had been dead before she was finally found.

"Only a couple people know what happened in that apartment, the person who did it, the person that's deceased and maybe a possible witness. For us to confirm if whether a person is a witness or a suspect, we need to keep some these details of the incident as close to us as possible," said Oakland Police spokesman Jeff Thomason.

It is clear security at the Van Buren tower is tight. Keys are needed to get in the building, to access the elevator, and to get out of the stairwells, which is why Spurrier believes this was no random attack.

"So the thought of it being random, someone first of all, getting in and then going floor to floor looking for an open doorknob doesn't seem reasonable," said Spurrier.

Despite her age, Lett was said to be active and independent. She regularly attended dance exercise classes and even drove her own car. Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Anyone with information may call the Oakland police: 510-238-3821
Crime Stoppers: 510-777-8572 or 510-777-3211

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