The death of a badly burned woman found Monday in a Manhattan Beach apartment fire was a homicide, authorities said Wednesday.
"It's been concluded that she definitely was murdered," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Gage said of the victim, whose identity, beyond gender, had not yet been determined by the coroner's office.
The causes of death and of the fire, which was of suspicious origin, were under investigation, Gage said. Authorities did not release any other information about why foul play was suspected.
A crew from the Manhattan Beach Fire Department responded to the 1:17 p.m. fire and discovered the body in a second-floor bedroom in the building in the 100 block of 28th Street, Battalion Chief Frank Chiella said.
"It was a badly burned victim," Chiella said, adding that firefighters were initially unable to determine sex or age "other than that it was most likely an adult."
The landlady said she believed the victim was the tenant's housekeeper.
Flames were shooting out the bedroom windows of the modest two-story structure and smoke was billowing over the adjacent three-story buildings when the Fire Department arrived, Chiella said. The fire was extinguished within 10 minutes.
The property, one block from the beach, is owned by John and Tricia Marcello, who use the lower unit for an office and rent out the upstairs. The Marcellos live next door.
Tricia Marcello declined to identify their tenant other than that he is a doctor who works at Little Company of Mary Hospital. She said they have rented to him for a couple of years, and that he was at work at the time of the fire.
Tricia Marcello said she called 911 at 1:17 p.m. from the couple's home after hearing "what sounded like a fire alarm" and phoning her husband, who was working in the office below the burning apartment.
He went outside and saw smoke coming room the bedroom windows, she said.
The apartment building was cordoned off with crime scene tape Wednesday.
Police did not have a suspect or a motive, Gage said.
They asked anyone with information to call the Sheriff's Department at (323) 890-5500 or the Manhattan Beach Police Department at (310) 545-4566.