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Woman found dead in Pasadena park identified as homeless outreach worker

Map showing the location where a woman's body was discovered at a park in Pasadena.
The body of a woman found Tuesday near a parking lot at Hahamongna Watershed Park was identified by Pasadena police as outreach worker Elena Ledford, 49.
(Los Angeles Times)

A woman found dead in a Pasadena park this week has been identified as an outreach worker at homeless encampments, authorities said.

A jogger discovered the body of Elena Ledford, 49, near a parking lot at Hahamongna Watershed Park along Oak Grove Drive shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The victim had injuries “consistent with an assault,” said Pasadena police Lt. Carolyn Gordon. Detectives have a “very strong lead that they’re following up on,” she added, though she could not provide details.

An investigation is ongoing and police have not revealed a motive.

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Ledford was an outreach worker at Union Station Homeless Services, said Sarah Tower, chief program officer at the Pasadena nonprofit.

The Glendale resident was “so valued, not just as a co-worker but as a member of our family,” Tower said.

Other co-workers described Ledford as “compassionate and kind.” They said she had moved from North Carolina back to her home state of California about three years ago and served as lead outreach worker for a multi-disciplinary team that included a caseworker, a medical specialist and a substance abuse or mental health specialist.

Ledford made the rounds at San Gabriel Valley homeless sites, “caring for the most vulnerable populations,” Tower said. “She inherently believed in their dignity — there was no question in her mind that there was hope for better lives for them.”

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Recently, Ledford had helped coordinate coronavirus testing for many living on the streets during the pandemic, Tower said.

“We are beyond devastated. This is so shocking for all of us,” said Dana Bean, Union Station’s senior director of development and communications.

Colleagues had last seen Ledford on Monday and said that although the Pasadena park was on her route, she had not been scheduled to work there Tuesday.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Pasadena police at (626) 744-4241.


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