BURBANK — Two weeks after the bodies of a woman and her adult daughter were found inside a Brighton Street home, authorities remain baffled by how the mother died and why the daughter hanged herself.
Even after their bodies were cremated and the ashes taken by a relative to their native Japan this week, authorities have no suspects in the deaths.
In fact, police officials are uncertain whether a crime occurred at all. The single-family home, where they were visiting, showed no signs of intruders or struggle. And authorities found no suicide notes.
"There was not any forced entry," said Lt. Larry Koch, a spokesman for the Burbank Police Department. "We are still looking into the whole thing."
Adding to the mystery, the women told a Glendale neighbor that they were simply going away on vacation.
A few days after the bodies were found May 2 in Burbank, the Los Angeles County coroner ruled that the daughter, Yoshiko Mizoguchi, 42, committed suicide by hanging.
The mother, Sumako Mizoguchi, 65, was not hanged and did not suffer obvious fatal injuries, according to Scott Carrier, a spokesman for the coroner's office. The cause of death remains under investigation pending the results of toxicological tests, Carrier said.
Koch said the coroner's findings will be crucial in determining whether foul play was involved.
"There's nothing obvious where you would look at this and say, 'Well, that's why she died,' " Koch said.
On Monday, a nephew of the mother who had come from Japan authorized the cremation of both bodies. He took the ashes back to Japan this week, said Shoji Konishi, administrator at the Fukui Mortuary in Los Angeles.
Konishi said the family was unwilling to make public statements about the women.
"This is really strictly private," Konishi said. "They just want it quiet."
Authorities said the younger woman was found dead in the den of the house on Brighton Street, near Kenmere Avenue. Her mother's body was found in an adjacent room.
Learning more about the dead women has been difficult, police said.
The women's closest relatives live in Japan. Neighbors and acquaintances, of which there apparently were few, knew little about the pair. The two women were believed to be unemployed.
The immediate result was a reluctance on the part of police to classify the case as anything other than a double-death investigation. Police called the daughter's death suicide only after the coroner's office ruled it so.
Property records show that the women owned and lived in a home with two detached rental units on Elk Avenue in Glendale, in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood.
Since the deaths, no one has answered the door at the home. Newspapers have piled up on the porch alongside a pair of slippers left by the doorstep. It remains unclear what will happen to the property.
Waiss Rahmani, who has rented an apartment from the women since December, told The Times that the Mizoguchis left their home about two weeks before their deaths, saying they were going on vacation.
"They didn't say where they were going. They just asked me to look after the property and to pick up their mail while they were gone," he said. "They called once . . . and they said they were staying with a friend, but they didn't say where. They asked if everything was all right."
Authorities said the women, who moved to the United States from Japan about 10 years ago, apparently were staying temporarily with a male acquaintance at the Burbank home. The man, who police said is not a suspect, declined to be interviewed.
Burbank police, meanwhile, turned to the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles to communicate with the women's relatives in Japan.
Vice Consul Shoichi Arai said next of kin were notified of the deaths but he declined to identify the family, citing their right to privacy.
"They would be very upset," Arai said. "They are not famous people. They are ordinary people."
The women's bodies were found when a friend stopped by to see them at about 2:30 p.m. on May 2.
The friend, who also refused to be interviewed, walked toward the rear of the house. From outside, he saw the younger woman's body hanging inside the den, police said. Startled, the friend ran down the street and found someone to call 911.
Standing outside the Glendale home after learning of the deaths, Rahmani said he thought the women were considering visiting relatives overseas. The younger woman had seemed depressed lately, he said.
"For the past month or so," Rahmani said, "she was staying inside and hardly ever coming out."
Another neighbor, Louie Jimenez, described the younger woman as intensely private but said the mother often chatted with other residents.
"She was very friendly but she spoke very little English, so it was hard to communicate," Jimenez said. "The daughter just stayed in her yard. Occasionally we saw her watering the grass, but she didn't want to get involved with anybody.
"I feel very bad about what happened," he added. "You can't live in a place and not talk to anybody. You have to have friends."
Times correspondent Steve Ryfle contributed to this story.