Authorities on Tuesday were looking for the killer of a woman whose body was found in her minivan by startled family members summoned to a parking lot by Pomona police, who had failed to check the interior of the vehicle.
The body of Eileen Nicole Ponce-Orta, 22, was found Friday under some blankets in the van, which was parked in a lot reserved for police officers near the courthouse in the 400 block Civic Center Plaza.
She had been missing since earlier in the week. "They said they located Eileen's van and that there were no signs of foul play and no blood," Tracy Ponce, the victim's mother, told the Los Angeles Times. "I said, oh well, that's a relief."
Ponce told The Times that when family members arrived at the lot, they found her daughter's maroon Plymouth Voyager with the front windows rolled down. Opening the van's sliding door, Ponce lifted up some blankets in the back seat and saw part of a leg. Ponce knew it was her daughter, because of her purple toenail polish. Authorities said Ponce-Orta, the La Puente mother of a 2-year-old, had been stabbed in the neck. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Police declined to discuss any details of the homicide investigation. No arrests have been made.
Family members said they were dumbfounded as to why officers didn't check inside the van before releasing it to them. Pomona Police Chief Joe Romero defended his department, saying officers had followed proper protocol.
Pomona Mayor Norma Torres said she wants to know more about the department's protocols in dealing with such cases.