Deputies seek help in homicide of Orlando woman

Published On: May 28 2014 01:10:15 PM EDT   Updated On: May 28 2014 02:28:45 PM EDT

Dozens huddled together at a candlelight vigil Friday evening outside 5020 Turnbull Drive, just steps from where deputies say someone killed their friendly elderly neighbor, Elena Ortega.


The Orange County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday said it continues to seek information about the death of an 83-year-old woman who was found slain in September.

Detectives at a news conference named Juan Rosario and Sean Quinn persons of interest in the death of Elena Ortega, whose body was discovered September 18 in a burning home at 5020 Turnbull Drive in Orlando.

Rosario was recently convicted of a home invasion robbery that occurred about 10 houses from Ortega's home.  He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.  Quinn is awaiting trial on charges in the same crime.

Detectives said Rosario had "this kind of stranglehold on the community," placing residents in fear, and they added that they're hopeful someone will now come forward with information since he's been convicted.

In October, the Orange County Sheriff's Office increased the Crimeline reward to $19,000 for information about the case.

Deputies said Ortega, 83, was found with gruesome injuries before, detectives say, her attackers set fire to her home to cover up the crime.  They won't say, however, how she died.

Authorities believe someone targeted Ortega, knowing she lived alone at her home and that her health was on the decline.

"Everybody loved my mom," said Elena Wilson, Ortega's daughter. "September 18th was the worst day of my life. She was taken away from me by evil."

When authorities found Ortega's body, they also learned that her jewelry was gone, including a unique bracelet from Spain.

Wilson said other jewelry was also missing, including pearl earrings, an 18-carat gold chain and her grandmother's 67-year-old wedding band.

"After she worked so hard in this country to have something, somebody just came and got it. That is not fair," said Ortega. "I hope, one day, that that pain that I have right now in my heart, it will ease a little bit by justice and by catching these people."

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