Lahoma Ballester Murdered in Tustin and Her Presumed Killer Dies in Fiery Crash in Anaheim
UPDATE, NOV. 4, 9:37 A.M.:Lt. Jeff Hallock, the sheriff's spokesman, just emailed over the following that indicates the case is being probed as a murder-suicide: "Investigators believe the collision with the wall was intentional as the driver accelerated and failed to brake immediately prior to impact. The Coroner Division has yet to confirm the identity of the deceased driver; however, it is believed the driver is the suspect in the murder of [Lahoma] Ballester.
"The suspect is known to Ballester, having had a previous relationship and child in common with her daughter.
"Investigators have yet to determine a motive for the murder-suicide but continue to interview witnesses and obtain information regarding the incident."
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 4, 9:14 A.M.: An investigation into a 55-year-old Tustin woman's gunshot murder in Santa Ana that gives way to a police chase, fiery crash and the death of a 29-year-old man in Anaheim--yep, it was a mighty wild scene last night.
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The Orange County coroner has identified the victim as Lahoma Ballester. A woman by that name worked as the human resources director with G&M Oil Co., according to her Linkedin page. Ballester had also previously identified herself as a longtime worker in Christian youth ministry, a repeat "Legacy Runner" in the Disneyland Half Marathon and a donor to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Around 7 p.m. Monday, Orange County sheriff's deputies went to a home in the 18400 block of Warren Avenue, which is in an unincorporated area of Tustin, after getting a report of a shooting. Ballester, who was found suffering from a gunshot, was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where she was pronounced dead at 7:40 p.m.
A homicide investigation was launched, and it was learned a white SUV vehicle may have been related to the shooting. A bulletin that included the SUV's license plate number was put out, and Santa Ana cops spotted the vehicle and tried to stop it, according to Lt. Jeff Hallock, the sheriff's spokesman.
The SUV did not stop, which launched a short chase that ended when the vehicle slammed into a wall on North Rio Vista Street at East Frontera Street in Anaheim around 9:25 p.m., Hallock said. "The vehicle erupted into flames on impact with the wall, killing the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle," the spokesman added.
The driver and his relationship to Ballester has not yet been confirmed. Sheriff's Lt. John Roche told City News Service Ballester knew the man through a third party. KNBC/Channel 4 reported that the dead man was dating Ballester's daughter.
Hallock says a handgun recovered from an Anaheim residence "is believed to have been used in the homicide."
The investigation continues, and anyone with information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department at 714.647.7000 or leave an anonymous tip with Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855.847.6227 (855-TIP-OCCS) or via occrimestoppers.org.
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