Police: Motive unknown in Calif murder-suicide

May 25, 2011 - 3:13 AM
Four Dead Pool

People hold candles during a vigil for the Pimienta family Tuesday, May 24, 2011, in San Diego. The Pimienta family, a family of four that included a 9-year-old girl and a high school senior, were found dead Tuesday in a swimming pool and bathtub at their San Diego home, in what police are calling an apparent triple murder-suicide. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The parents were hard-working owners of a towing business. Their 17-year-old daughter was excited about this weekend's prom and preparing for college. Their 9-year-old girl played with children in the neighborhood.

All four were found dead in a backyard swimming pool and a bathtub in what police are calling a murder-suicide, stunning neighbors and friends who said they saw no signs of trouble.

Police said one of the four family members committed suicide but declined to say which one. The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office was expected to rule on the causes of death as early as Wednesday.

Police didn't name any suspects and said the motive was undetermined.

Police identified the victims as Alfredo Pimienta, 44; his wife, Georgina Pimienta, 38; Priscilla Pimienta, 17; and Emily Pimienta, 9.

A relative reported finding the bodies after Alfredo Pimienta called to ask that he visit the home in a quiet southeast San Diego neighborhood, police said. The relative came to discuss a business transaction shortly after dawn.

Police responded to find Alfredo Pimienta and two females — one apparently a child — in the pool and another female in the bathtub.

Neighbors and friends said nothing seemed amiss with the couple, known for logging long hours at work, or their two girls. Georgina Pimienta's stepfather, Jose Villa, said he and his wife picked up Emily from school Monday. He said the family owns a towing business.

Priscilla Pimienta was preparing for college. She was to graduate next month from San Diego's High Tech High School, a charter school that has earned national acclaim for its high graduation rate, said classmate Alex Jasmund.

"There was no one like her," Jasmund said. "She was loveable, she was hateable, she was all in one."

About 100 people, mostly teenagers, gathered on a San Diego beach Tuesday night to remember Priscilla. The youths held hands around a fire pit and some were seen embracing and talking quietly.

Jasmund said he, Priscilla and two other friends went to a theater Monday afternoon to see the 3-D vampire-hunting movie "Priest," a graphic-novel adaptation. Priscilla met with friends for frozen yogurt after the film to plan for Saturday's prom, including details like ordering a limousine and having a party with about 20 classmates.

Jasmund said everything seemed normal when he saw Priscilla, her parents and her younger sister at a pool party at the home Saturday for Priscilla's friends.

Marlon Soriano, who lives two doors away, said the family had been renting the home for no longer than two years. They hosted pool parties for relatives in the summer.

The house is one of the few rental properties in the safe, family-oriented neighborhood, said Soriano, 22, who has lived in the area since he was born. New tenants arrived at the home every two or three years.

Soriano waved hello to the family but generally didn't talk to them. The younger girl often played with other children in the neighborhood.

"The children were happy," he said. "They always seemed to be smiling."