Murders in Inglewood are often surprisingly easy to solve.
As in most urban areas, homicide detectives say, there usually is an evident motive--drugs, robbery, rape, a domestic dispute--and sometimes a clear suspect.
But the slaying of Kimberly Danielle Finley has puzzled investigators for more than three months.
Detective Steven Tyrrell, one of three investigators on the case, gave this account:
Finley, a 24-year-old who moved to Inglewood from San Diego about five years ago, worked as a clerk-typist in the Los Angeles city clerk's office. She lived with William Harrison, 29, her boyfriend of three years, in the 1000 block of Larch Street near Centinela Hospital. With the exception of a sister who lives in Inglewood and casual friendships at work, Finley's life appeared to revolve around Harrison.
On May 6, a Wednesday, Harrison left home about 3 p.m. for his night job at a Torrance warehouse. Finley had the day off. She went out in the late afternoon and took her nephew, Jamar, to dinner to celebrate his seventh birthday.
"She took care of her sister's kids as much as she could," said Martha Finley, Kimberly's mother, in a telephone interview from San Diego. "She always took them out on special occasions like birthdays."
Finley dropped her nephew off at her sister's home about 7:15 p.m. and drove back to her apartment, police said.
When Harrison returned to the apartment after work about 2:10 a.m., he found Finley's body in the living room. She had been beaten to death with a blunt instrument.
"We put the time of the murder between 8 and 10 o'clock," Tyrrell said. "There were no signs of forced entry. Absolutely nothing. No signs of a struggle. No evidence of sexual assault. Nothing of value, like a VCR, a television, had been taken."
Tyrrell said investigators believe they know the murder weapon but he did not want to comment further. Fingerprints were found in the apartment but have not been identified by state computers.
No one has reported seeing or hearing anything suspicious around the ground-floor apartment on the night of the crime. However, Harrison told police that Finley had come home distraught about a week before her murder, saying she had been followed home by a man who looked like a transient.
Detectives have looked into subsequent reports of transients in the area, but Tyrrell said it is more likely that Finley's killer was someone she knew.
"We've been told that she was ultra security-conscious," Tyrrell said. "There's no way she's going to let a stranger in, especially if she had been followed earlier."
Martha Finley said she also believes her daughter was killed by someone she knew. She hopes that a $3,000 reward the family has offered will spur interest in the case.
"I'm going through a lot of pain right now," she said. "I want to know what happened to Kim and why."
Tyrrell said Harrison has cooperated with investigators, who have confirmed that he went to work that night. Harrison could not be reached for comment.
There are no current suspects, Tyrrell said, but "no one is above suspicion. If in fact it was someone she knew, maybe she had a conversation with someone who could help us. I'm looking for someone to point me in the right direction."
Tyrrell said anyone with information can call the Inglewood homicide bureau at 421-5246.