A 64-year-old housekeeper was stabbed to death early Friday in the rectory of a South El Monte Catholic church, apparently after she surprised a burglar, sheriff's deputies said.
A second housekeeper screamed at the man to halt the attack, but he ignored her and continued stabbing the victim, Deputy Dave Hogan said.
Hogan said Margarita Baltazar apparently interrupted a 4 a.m. burglary in the Epiphany Catholic Church rectory, where she lived. A short time later, the second housekeeper, Mercedes Armendariz, 39, was awakened by screams.
Armendariz saw a man, his face partly covered by a handkerchief, stabbing Baltazar. Armendariz pleaded with the man to leave, Hogan said.
Hogan said Armendariz yelled, "Don't hurt her. I'll tell you where money is." But the stabbing continued.
Armendariz ran upstairs to wake a priest, then locked herself in a bathroom. She told investigators she heard someone first knocking on the door of another priest and then running out of the rectory when the second priest asked who was there.
By the time the priests reached Baltazar, she was dying of her stab wounds, Hogan said. The assailant had fled.
Sheriff's investigators believe that more than one person was involved in the attempted burglary because Armendariz told deputies that while the one man was attacking Baltazar, she also heard sounds of ransacking in a nearby office area.
What, if anything, was taken was not immediately known.
The stabbing suspect was described as a male Latino in his 20s, about 5 feet, 5 inches, with thin black hair, and wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt.