Orange County prosecutors on Thursday charged a 15-year-old boy with first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of his 72-year-old neighbor in Laguna Niguel last week.
Samuel Moses Nelson was also charged with the special circumstance allegation of murder during a burglary, which means that he will be tried as an adult.
Jane Thompson's body was found Sunday, but officials said she was killed June 25.
According to the complaint filed by the district attorney's office, Nelson also is charged with five residential burglaries. Since April 15, the documents allege, Nelson broke into three houses on multiple occasions. He is accused of stealing credit cards to purchase gifts and food.
Nelson faces life in prison without parole if convicted on all counts.
During the last burglary, authorities said, Nelson entered Thompson's house through a back door. Sheriff's officials theorize that the retired Hollywood set designer -- who had been asleep on her couch in front of the television -- awoke suddenly and was struck more than a dozen times with a finishing hammer. The weapon has not been found.
Nelson is to be arraigned today at Harbor Justice Center in Laguna Niguel.
Thompson's funeral services have been delayed until officials complete a search for family or a will. If neither is found, Thompson will be buried by the county.