Woman in California Discovered Dead in Closet

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HANFORD, Calif. – A welfare check in Hanford resulted in the grim discovery of an elderly woman found dead in a closet in her home, wrapped in plastic.

“I was actually worried because I wasn’t sure what happened. After we found out that she was in a closet, deceased, and right away I’m thinking someone broke into the house,” Hanford resident Gabriel Virrutea said.

On May 18, residents in a Hanford neighborhood noticed that the elderly female resident of a home had not been seen in weeks. A concerned neighbor called the police, who then conducted a welfare check. Investigators found the victim, a woman in her 60s, dead and locked inside a closet.

“The body was starting to decompose. She was wrapped in plastic. Plastic bags and that led us to believe this was not of natural causes,” Lieutenant Justin Vallin with Hanford Police said.

Officers later identified 37-year-old Kelli Yingling as a suspect. Investigators learned that Yingling was a resident at the home. Yingling was interviewed by detectives who say she gave statements implicating herself in the murder.

“An autopsy was performed today and the coroner was able to determine there were signs of strangulation on the body. And at this time, the victim has not been identified. We’re waiting for DNA results to come back which should take about a week,” Lt. Vallin said.

Yingling was already in custody at Kings County jail, having been arrested after a pursuit unrelated to the homicide two weeks ago. The victim’s neighbors on Encore Drive expressed shock because police officers live near the home where the body was found.

“When the neighborhood first started, it was almost all law enforcement here. Kinda used to call it cop land. Hardly any crime at all, I mean there’s some kids doing dumb stuff but nothing like what transpired.”

Yingling remains in custody without bail, and police are not saying anything about a possible motive.

Jason Takhtadjian
Jason Takhtadjian
Jason Takhtadjian is a proud Armenian-American. Born in Southern California, he moved to Las Vegas at the age of 7 where he went to school and graduated from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. Jason majored in Broadcast Journalism with a focus on sports, but his driving passion is to tell engaging, fun, and meaningful stories.

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