Alameda County officials say woman's injuries were 'brutal' in arson, murder

What appeared to be a deadly house fire in Castro Valley has turned out to be the violent murder of a 59-year-old widow. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office has no suspect and no motive in the shocking crime.

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"If it's some lunatic out there, I mean, I can't even," said neighbor Patrick O'Neil. "I'm almost in shock just hearing it."

The victim of the murder and arson on Grove Way in Castro Valley was a 59-year-old woman who had been living alone since her husband died in April.

"My heart goes out to their family," O'Neil told ABC7 News. "I just can not understand what would cause someone to do something like that."

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office says an autopsy revealed the victim did not die in the early morning fire, but that she suffered wounds consistent with murder.

"These are brutal injuries," said Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. "These are injuries that are inflicted upon people with violence."

The fire was reported at 2:45 a.m. and firefighters found the woman dead in her garage.

"They set her body, the garage and the house on fire," Kelly continued. "That's usually done to conceal evidence, destroy evidence such as DNA and fingerprints."

Sheriff's investigators have no suspects and no motive. The victim had lived here for more than 30 years. She has two adult daughters and was loved by neighbors.

"She was one of the sweetest women you will ever meet," said Kim Mihalyi, a neighbor. "Genuine, wonderful lady."

Investigators are asking anyone who has surveillance video in the area between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. to come forward.
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