Service to Be Held for Slain Realtor

Times Staff Writer

Friends and family of slain El Segundo Realtor Julia Buchanan Keller will gather today in Manhattan Beach for a memorial service as detectives continue to investigate her slaying.

The service will begin at 4 p.m. at American Martyrs Church. Two scholarships -- for students interested in animal care or real estate -- have been created to honor Keller, known to many as Deede. One scholarship will be available to students at El Segundo High School, where Keller's children, Julie Wilson and Mike Keller, went to school. The California Assn. of Realtors will offer the other scholarship.

"I think she would have been so thrilled with that because of her high professional standards," said Linda Dondero, Keller's friend and co-worker at the Manhattan Beach offices of Shorewood Realtors, where Keller worked for more than 13 years.

"We all loved Deede so much," Dondero said. "It's one of the saddest times in my life. I miss her terribly."

Wilson, of San Jose, said the scholarships were a good way to honor her mother.

"Just the outpouring of support has been overwhelming," Wilson said. "It makes me feel good to know that my mom was loved."

Keller, 55, disappeared from her home in the 500 block of Richmond Street in El Segundo on July 8. Police found her purse in the house and the television on, but Keller's car was gone. There were no signs of forced entry. She was found dead eight days later in San Diego in the trunk of her car.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, which took over the case when Keller's body was found, would not comment on whether there were suspects in the killing. Keller was last seen by her date, who dropped her off at home at 11:30 p.m. He has been questioned by police.

U.S. State Department officials questioned Keller's ex-husband, Erwin Howard, after he arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, to visit relatives the week she disappeared.

Keller is survived by her children and Wilson's daughter, 14-month-old Grace Julia.

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be sent to the California Assn. of Realtors Scholarship Foundation, 525 S. Virgil Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90020 or El Segundo High School, 640 Main St., El Segundo, CA 90245.

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