WESTMINSTER — A 14-year-old boy was arrested Monday on suspicion of breaking into a neighbor's house and stabbing her to death.
Police identified the victim as Janice L. McLean, a 42-year-old court secretary, who died Monday shortly before noon after 4 1/2 hours of surgery at UCI Medical Center.
The youth allegedly pried open a window, crawled through and attacked McLean in her bed about 3 a.m. Monday, Westminster Police Sgt. Bill Lewis said.
McLean screamed during the attack and woke a family member who called police as the assailant fled from the house, he said.
Police declined to comment on a motive for the stabbing. Lewis added that there was no evidence that a burglary occurred.
Westminster Police Officer Robin Kapp said the youth was arrested about 8 a.m. Monday after following "investigative leads." He declined to elaborate.
The boy was held at Orange County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of murder.
A neighbor who lives just five houses from McLean's said his son was the one arrested by police. The man said he was questioned by investigators for hours but said he did not have an explanation.
"I just hope he didn't do it," the father said.
McLean, the mother of two children, worked for eight years as a secretary to Justice Sheila Prell Sonenshine at the Santa Ana offices of the state's 4th Appellate District.
Sonenshine described her as a devoted professional with a fun streak, who always organized social outings for the staff, including birthday and holiday dinners.
"I'm totally at a loss," Sonenshine said Monday night. "She was a good secretary and a good friend. She organized our fun and made us remember the important things in life like having fun."
Sonenshine declined to discuss the police investigation to honor a request by McLean's family.
Investigators roped off six houses on the 9100 block of Obsidian Drive for more than 10 hours as they questioned neighbors and searched for the weapon. Police did not say whether they found the knife.
Outside McLead's brown wood and stucco house Monday three girls were seen carrying luggage to the house next door, where the victim's parents lived.
Staff writers Dan Weikel and Davan Maharaj contributed to this report.