Regina Nolan's efforts to shun a lifestyle of drug abuse were cut short Sunday night.
Relatives found Nolan, 29, lying on her front stoop, bleeding to death from a shotgun wound inflicted by an intruder in her South Los Angeles home. Authorities found another murder victim, an acquaintance of Nolan's, inside the house in the 300 block of 70th Street. The 36-year-old Los Angeles man's name was withheld until his family could be notified of his death.
Neighbors and Nolan's family said they watched in pain as the 29-year-old, unemployed X-ray technician struggled to keep her distance from crack cocaine and those who accompany it.
"We kept Regina close, because we wanted to help her come around," one of Nolan's three brothers who live in the neighborhood said Monday.
"The way we saw it, there's no use in . . . trying to step around it, our sister had a problem, and the family all wanted to see it through," said the brother, who declined to identify himself.
Police investigators were looking into a possible connection between the murders and an earlier incident in which a friend of Nolan's was severely beaten after leaving the house.
Esperanza Bordenabe, 30, said police questioned her about an assailant who struck her in the face and broke her wrist the night before the shooting. Bordenabe said she had left Nolan's home and was returning to her house a few doors away on 70th Street when she was attacked.
The man killed on Sunday had fended off the assailant, Bordenabe told police, but she added that she did not know if there was any connection between the assault and the double-murder.
"I grew up with Regina," she said. "We were more or less like family. But I stopped going over to that house all the time because it got so violent."
Nolan's brother said that the house, which is owned by Nolan's mother, had become the focus of flare-ups between family members and those thought to be hangers-on.
"Regina's what you call a pushover," he said. "The people who came around brought problems with them. Regina had her TV stolen; they would take her clothes. But she was quiet about it. She was the kind of girl who, when she wants people to leave her house, can't come out and tell them."
Recently, Nolan had been spending more time with her children, Marcus, 5, and Marquitta, 7, who have been in the care of their grandmother since Nolan began using cocaine, her brother said.
"Regina would take Marcus to nursery school and then to the day-care center," he said. "She was staying in more, trying to stay out of trouble."