A woman was killed and her husband critically wounded early Sunday night when three assailants, responding to a newspaper ad selling a sports car, went to the couple's Anaheim home and shot them, police said.
Kazumi Hanano, 62, and the body of his wife, Ryoko, 60, were not discovered until six hours later when one of the couple's three children returned about 2:45 a.m. Monday and found them in a rear bedroom of the couple's home in the 1700 block of South Nutwood Street, Anaheim police said. Both victims had been shot at least once with handguns in the upper body, Sgt. John Haradon said.
Ryoko Hanano was pronounced dead at the scene. Kazumi Hanano, a landscape contractor, was taken to the UCI Medical Center in Orange where he was listed Monday night in critical but stable condition.
The sight of police investigators coming and going at the Hanano home Monday unnerved many of those living in the modest neighborhood, a mile west of Disneyland on the city's south side. The Hananos were known as private people who kept their yard trimmed and their home freshly painted, neighbors said.
Based on an interview with Hanano, Haradon said that the three assailants, two men and a woman, all in their 20s, went to the Hananos' single-story home about 8 p.m. Sunday to inquire about a black 1984 Chevrolet Corvette he had recently advertised for sale in a weekly automobile tabloid. Haradon said the three entered the house, then herded the couple at gunpoint to a back bedroom where they were bound and shot.
The assailants fled in a tan-colored, late-model Ford or Dodge van with off-road type wheels and white rims that they had driven to the victims' house, police said. They also took the black Corvette bearing California license TOY4KAZ.
Authorities were still searching Monday night for the van, the Corvette and the trio.
Police issued the following description of the suspects: A black male, 5 feet 8 inches, 190 pounds, with reddish brown hair, a mustache, long sideburns and a light complexion with freckles; a white male, 5 feet 7 inches, 190 pounds, blond hair with a 5-inch ponytail and a mustache; and a white female about 5 feet 7 inches, 110 pounds, with brown collar-length hair.
No Evidence of Struggle
Detectives and criminologists spent most of Monday morning combing the victims' home for evidence. At one point, an orange city of Anaheim pickup truck, escorted by a police squad car, left the house with a mattress. Police sources said the victims were found with their hands tied, lying on a bed.
There was no evidence, Haradon said, that a struggle took place inside the house, and it was unclear whether anything besides the car was taken.
Neighbors along Nutwood Street described the Hananos as quiet and low key.
The Hanano home is the biggest on a block that includes a cluster of condominiums and a string of small tract houses. Smartly kept, it is situated on nearly an acre of land. Behind the house are a large vegetable garden and a greenhouse where Hanano raised flowers and plants for his business as a landscape contractor.
The couple, neighbors said, have lived on the street for nearly 15 years, raising their three children, including the youngest, Dean, who was still living at home and was the one who reportedly found his parents early Monday morning.
"The family is devastated," said one close friend, who asked not to be identified. "They were a close family who lived simply, worked hard for what they had and believed in other people. . . . This has come as a tremendous blow."
The shootings rattled neighbors as well.
"This isn't supposed to happen on a street like this," said Rose McDonald, speaking through her screen door. She lives across from the Hananos and said the shootings "sickened" her. "I'm going out and buying dead bolts for all my doors," she said
McDonald's daughter, Vicki White, who lives at the house with her three children, said her father heard what sounded like "firecrackers going off" at the Hanano house about 8:30 p.m, about the time police believe the Japanese-American couple were shot.
"But dad didn't think much of it, since it was just the Fourth of July," White said. "We figured it was just somebody using up a couple of firecrackers."
But at daybreak, when White looked out the window and saw several police cars in front of the Hanano home, she realized something serious had happened.
"I keep asking myself, 'Why, why, why,' " White said. "It just doesn't make any sense."
Police believe that it was the black Corvette that attracted the assailants to Nutwood Street.
One neighbor, Sean Shrum, said Hanano agreed to give his son, Dean, money to buy a car when he graduated from high school several years ago. But when Dean bought the black Corvette, Hanano disapproved, believing that it was not an appropriate vehicle for a recent graduate.
Hanano kept the car, although neighbors said it didn't match his personality and life style, which they said may explain why he was selling it.