Motive Sought in Puzzling Slaying of Ailing House-Sitter


Los Angeles police were attempting Monday to determine the motive for the baffling slaying of a man who was found shot to death in a house he was watching for his sister and her husband in Woodland Hills.

Police said Arthur Lee Ekrem, 59, of Palmdale was found in the house in the 22300 block of Quinta Road about 7:30 p.m. Sunday when his sister and brother-in-law, Phyllis and Robert Matthews, returned home after a weekend out of town.

Ekrem, who was retired and in poor health, had been shot numerous times in the upper body, Detective Rick Swanston said. He had been staying at the Woodland Hills house about a week while he was sick. He had agreed to house-sit while the Matthewses went away for the weekend to Palm Springs.

Swanston said there was no sign of forced entry or that a struggle had taken place in the house. Robbery was apparently not a motive, he said. Ekrem’s car and other valuables were not taken.


“Nothing is missing,” Swanston said. “There was no ransacking and everything seems to be intact in the house.”

The Matthewses left their house in a quiet hillside neighborhood near Mulholland Drive and Topanga Canyon Boulevard on Saturday morning, Swanston said. It appears from evidence at the crime scene that Ekrem was probably killed Saturday afternoon, he said.

Swanston said evidence also indicates that Ekrem never left the house after the Matthewses departed.

He said investigators have so far found nothing about Ekrem that indicates a reason for the slaying. Ekrem, a former buyer for a department store, had been retired for 20 years, Swanston said.

“No motive has been established,” Swanston said. “He was retired and was just a house guest in the residence. We are not certain at this point he was the intended victim. It could have been a mistake and the wrong guy got it.”

Swanston said that investigators found nothing to indicate that the victim’s brother-in-law, Robert Matthews, the owner of a chain of car lubrication shops, was the intended target.