Dead woman found facedown in sand in Newport Beach

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Passersby found the body of a woman facedown in the sand near West Oceanfront and Highland Street in West Newport, police said Monday.

It was unclear how the woman, said to be in her 20s, died.

Authorities were called at 6 a.m. to the area near the Balboa Peninsula’s Lifeguard Tower 71, where they determined that the woman was dead, said Newport Beach Police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe.


The woman was described as Asian, 5 foot 2 with a thin build.

Detectives and the coroner remained on the scene as of 8:50 a.m.

About 11:30 a.m., police continued to walk alleys and scan the area for evidence. Access to the beach in the area remained open.

Passersby said that although the news was upsetting, they were reserving judgment until they had more information on what may have happened.

Nicole Telson, who pushed her toddler daughter on the swings at nearby West Newport Park, said if it was found that the woman had been the victim of an assault, ‘then that would bother me, that someone in the area could do something so heinous.’

But because the cause of the woman’s death was still unknown, she said she generally felt that the neighborhood was safe.

L.J. O’Leary, who said he works in an office across West Coast Highway from the park, said he intended to surf as planned.

Bruce Quarto, a Claremont-area resident, said in a phone interview that the more serious crimes he’s seen since buying a beachfront house on Highland in 2005 have been thefts.

When he bought the house, the only thing on the seller’s disclosure forms was a car break-in, Quarto said.

Still, he installed several security cameras to keep an eye on the house and its back patio when he’s gone. He said that in the past he’s given footage from the cameras to police, which has helped them catch thieves stealing from open patios or targeting copper pipes.

But Monday, when his friend Bill Korpy of Dana Point texted him about the grim discovery just outside his vacation home, he said, he was shocked.

‘It’s a real quiet neighborhood,’ he said. ‘This is more exclusive, and there’s not a sidewalk so there’s no one breaking beer bottles on the porch.’

Anyone with additional information is asked to call Det. Garrett Fitzgerald at (949) 644-3797.

-- Jill Cowan and Lauren Williams, Times Community News