Long Beach twins connected in life, death

Valerie and Diane Blackler were inseparable, even when death came.

Neighbors said the identical twin sisters enjoyed walks around their Long Beach neighborhood. They were antique collectors, and they loved Disneyland. They were both nurses and carpooled to work.


But on Saturday, the 58-year-old women were found dead inside their two-story home in Naples, one of the city's most affluent neighborhoods.

Long Beach police officers discovered the bodies about 5:50 p.m. in the 100 block of Syracuse Walk as they were checking on the well-being of the women. An investigation into how the sisters died was continuing, although coroner officials, who identified them, ruled Valerie's death as a suicide.

Their deaths left neighbors shocked and puzzled.

"They were very lovely ladies," said Marilyn Bittle, a longtime resident and neighbor. "They were very polite. If I said hello, they would say hello."

The women moved into the neighborhood about 30 years ago and they took excellent care of their home, Bittle said. They collected antiques, including high-end dolls.

But the women were also known for being private. They didn't participate in block parties or the annual Christmas boat parade, neighbors said.

In the last few years, the women became more reclusive, neighbors said.

"The shrubbery had grown and it covered the front," Bittle said. "I think the growth was for privacy."

The sisters were seen taking fewer walks.

Then about two weeks ago, neighbors became concerned when they noticed the lights on in the house and the garage.

"They never left the lights on," Bittle said, adding that the mail carrier stopped delivering mail because it was piling up. She said at least one neighbor could smell an odor near the garage door.

The police were notified soon after.

On Tuesday night, two votive candles and a vase of flowers sat by the front gate of the house. Some of the shrubs covering the front steps of the home were decorated with large ornamental glass balls and faded leis.

"It's such a tragedy," Bittle said.