Tahoe City murder-suicide suspected
Sun News Service
TAHOE CITY ” Authorities believe a 41-year-old Tahoe City woman was beaten to death inside the home she shared with her boyfriend, who then killed himself a mile away by using gasoline to set fire to her SUV while he was inside.
However, Placer County sheriff deputies say the apparent murder of Julie Ann Lacke remains under investigation until the identity of the man in the burned-out Ford Explorer is determined.
“Positive identification of the human remains from the burned vehicle, investigators believe to be Ms. Lacke’s boyfriend, will have to be made by DNA analysis and the results are not expected for at least several weeks,” said Lt. John Addoms in a written statement to the press.
In a telephone interview, Addoms said investigators, working on information gathered in interviews, said the man in the vehicle is likely her boyfriend, with whom she lived at the home at 443 Pioneer Way, a rural residential Tahoe City neighborhood.
Lacke’s body was discovered inside the home after authorities traced the plates of the burned SUV to her residence, said Corie Quillinan, detective sergeant for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said Lacke was found inside the bedroom of the home she shared with her boyfriend and a roommate. The couple had been leasing the home for about 10 months. Lacke had no children, nor were there children who lived at the home.
The roommate is not considered a suspect, Quillinan said.
Lacke suffered blunt force trauma to her face, head and chest, authorities said. Investigators don’t believe any weapon was used in the beating. An autopsy also showed internal bleeding.
“It appears that this is an example of domestic violence in its extreme form,” Addoms said.
Interviews of those who live nearby found that no one heard anything the night of or morning of Lacke’s death. There were no reports of loud noise or screaming to authorities.
Neighbor Brian McAuley said he saw the boyfriend brushing snow off his maroon Ford Explorer at about 8 a.m. Saturday.
“We didn’t say hi that morning ” he was quiet, but nothing seemed unusual” McAuley said.
Addoms declined to comment as to whether deputies previously had been called to the address. The suspect and Lacke were not employed, he said. An autopsy will determine whether drugs were in Lacke’s system at the time of her death. No drugs were found inside the home, Quillinan said.
The burning Ford Explorer was discovered by a witness who called the North Tahoe Fire Protection District at about 9 a.m. Saturday. After the fire was extinguished the human remains were found. Dental records of the suspect were inconclusive, Addoms said.
“We can’t make positive identification because there is not enough of the man left to make a positive identification,” Addoms said. “Therefore we can’t release his name until he’s positively identified through DNA.”
According to Lacke’s family, her boyfriend, who rented the downstairs portion of the residence with Lacke, was in and out of work and Lacke had not worked in a of couple years. The Lacke family said they knew their daughter had struggled with alcohol in the past and had sought help, but they expressed that only recently had they learned that Lacke’s boyfriend was a “heavy drinker.”
“We want people to know it was domestic abuse,” said the father, Jerry Lacke. “I don’t know when the beating started.”
He said her boyfriend had previously been charged on suspicion of battery for allegedly throwing a television at Julie Lacke.
“Usually the frequencies between the violence gets more and more frequent,” said Tahoe Women’s Services Executive Director Karen Edwards, describing the nature of an abusive relationship. “Generally speaking, it is a progressive thing. Most often the perpetrator-batterer is very controlling ” makes you think you can’t take care of yourself and it feels pretty hopeless. A lot of the controlling behavior makes it so you can’t be with your friends anymore ” you don’t have a support system.”
Edwards said it is important for family or friends of someone who they suspect to be in an abusive relationship, to encourage them to call Tahoe Women’s Services’ hotline at (800) 736-1060 for help and to learn what options they have.
The apparent suicide inside a burning vehicle is the second in the area in a little more than a month.
On Feb. 9 the body of a 76-year-old man was found inside a burning car in Kings Beach, also in Placer County. Authorities determined the man used gasoline to set fire to the interior of his Oldsmobile and then barricaded himself inside while it burned.
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