LANCASTER — A homeless man is in custody on suspicion of beating a veteran Los Angeles County deputy probation officer to death in her Lancaster home.
The man, whose name has not been released, was detained by deputies who responded to the 45500 block of Barrymoore Avenue at 12:05 a.m. Sunday, and he was arrested later that day, Lt. Mike Gomez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau told City News Service.
Authorities believe the man broke into the residence, but a motive was unclear, Gomez said.
The suspect is a homeless man who lives in the Lancaster area, Gomez said.
Paula Lind, 52, died at the scene, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office reported. An autopsy was pending to determine her cause of death.
According to the county Probation Department, Lind was a 16-year veteran of the agency.
“Our hearts are heavy today,” county Chief Probation Officer Adolfo Gonzales said in a statement. “Our officers work daily to help folks start over and rebuild their lives. Their work helps keep communities safe. It is horrifying to hear that one of our beloved officers passed in this manner. I am hopeful that the individual responsible for this attack will be held accountable and that justice will prevail. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lind family, loved ones, and friends.”
Deputies were sent to the Barrymoore Avenue residence on a “burglary/home invasion call,” according to a statement from the sheriff’s department.
“When deputies arrived, they found the victim … unresponsive and suffering from blunt head trauma,” according to a sheriff’s department statement. “The victim was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.”
“A male who was discovered in the house has been currently detained,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement on Sunday.
AFSCME Local 685, the union representing deputy probation officers, announced on Facebook Sunday that the victim was one of its members.
“One of our DPO II was found deceased early this morning at her residence in Antelope Valley,” according to the union. “… The preliminary information is that she may be a victim of homicide. … Meanwhile, please pray for family during this tragic event.”
In a statement on Monday, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger called Lind’s death “a tragic loss of life.”
“She was a public servant that dedicated her life’s work to helping effect positive change in the lives of the probationers she supervised,” Barger said. “The perpetrator responsible for this brutal attack must be held accountable and brought to justice. I will continue to track the outcome of this investigation closely.”
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According to the Los Angeles Times, Lind was assigned to Barry J. Nidorf juvenile hall in Sylmar. A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told The Times that the woman had just come home from work when the attack happened.
Anyone with information on the crime was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.