A fierce argument ended Tuesday night with the death of a 70-year-old woman and the arrest of her daughter on suspicion of murder.
Karen Ellsworth, 45, was being held without bail at the Redondo Beach Police Department jail in the death of her mother, Irene Margarite Ellsworth.
Police said the younger Ellsworth telephoned at 8:33 p.m. Tuesday for emergency assistance at the home on North Maria Avenue. Police and paramedics said they found Irene Ellsworth lying on her bedroom floor, bleeding from a severe head wound. She was taken to South Bay Hospital, where she died at 9:18 p.m.
Earlier in the evening, neighbors said, mother and daughter fought and screamed at each other in front of their home. “For nearly an hour they were shouting and yelling,” said Eileen Troutt, who lives across the street. “I had heard them argue, but this was the worst I had ever seen.”
Karen Ellsworth was arrested after being questioned for nearly an hour at police headquarters. She will be arraigned Monday in South Bay Municipal Court, said Lt. Jeffrey R. Cameron.
Police said there appeared to have been a struggle in the home but refused to provide further details. Detectives would not discuss what the daughter told them, or whether her mother spoke to them before she died.
Neighbors said Karen Ellsworth returned Tuesday evening from a weeklong vacation in Las Vegas. The younger woman appeared angry and complained that her mother had not emptied the trash or fed the family dog, said next-door neighbor Joanne Piscarsek, a friend of the mother.
Accounts by two witnesses differ on what happened next.
Piscarsek said she saw Karen Ellsworth hit her mother several times as she chased the older woman across the front lawn, screaming “get out of the house.” Troutt, however, said it appeared that the mother was the aggressor, chasing and striking her daughter in front of the home.
Troutt said the two went back inside, where the argument continued.
The two shared the house on and off for nearly 30 years, neighbors said. After taking jobs in other cities, Karen Ellsworth lived at home regularly for the past two years, Troutt said.
The elder Ellsworth retired about two years ago from her longtime job as an electrical engineer with Rockwell International Corp., where she worked on the B-1 bomber, according to a neighbor who also works for the company.
Since retiring, the woman spent her time reading, gardening and shopping, her friend Montrue Krasman said. Her husband died in an automobile accident more than 25 years ago, several neighbors said.
The younger Ellsworth worked periodically in the aerospace industry, neighbors said, but police said she recently has been unemployed.
The mother was strong-willed but not violent, Krasman said. “If she had something to say, she would say it. She wouldn’t frill it up. . . . I can see her defending herself but I (can’t) see her attacking” her daughter.
The mother often complained that her daughter spent money carelessly, Krasman said. “She would get exasperated with her,” she said.
Many of the neighbors on Maria Avenue are retired and have lived on the street since their homes were built in the mid-1950s.