A young graphic designer described by her father as "well-liked" was found dead in the garage of her parents' house, where she was apparently staying, on Saturday night.
The body of Katherine Jessie Wilkins (or Katie Wilkins), 25, was reportedly discovered by her brother Steve. But strangely, when he came across her body, the victim's silver BMW had vanished.
"Somebody stole her car..."
"... so we're working with the police detectives to try to find leads to try to find out who may have done this," Rob Wilkins, her dad, tells ABC7.
The coroner hasn't yet finished an autopsy on young Wilkins, but her family has been telling reporters that L.A. County Sheriff's homicide detectives are looking into possible foul play.
Their upscale home is nestled into the hills above eastern Malibu, on a somewhat remote cul-de-sac surrounded by a couple dozen other houses. It's positioned somewhere along West Moon Shadows Drive:
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Wilkins' car is a silver 1998 Z3 model with a red interior and a license plate number of 4AMN588, according to City News Service. Anyone with any information regarding her mysterious death can call homicide detectives at (323) 890-5500.
The victim's brother further speculated that Wilkins may have been with someone in the garage before she died.
"It looks like someone was there with her, and maybe is scared or doesn't know how to come forward," he tells the Los Angeles Times. "We're not angry. We're not upset with anyone who might have been with her. We just want them to come forward and help bring some closure to Katie. She was loved by a lot of people."
On what appears to be the victim's business website, she says she attended the Art Institute of California in Orange County, and later interned at Kapture Vision in Newport Beach. "I am a creative designer specializing in identity, branding, advertising, layout, and package design," she writes. "My skill set includes digital illustration, typography, web design and photography, and is constantly growing as the design industry evolves."
If someone killed Wilkins, it would be the first murder in Malibu this year.
Malibu officials pride themselves on the city's low homicide rate, and like to keep it at zero, if possible. They raised a huge fuss earlier this year when the death of a restaurant worker was erroneously reported as a murder, and made sure the public knew it had only been due to the victim's own poor health.
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Update, 10 a.m.: The plot thickens. KNX news radio is reporting that when Steve Wilkins found his sister, the washing machine was running and food was on the stove. The dog had also gotten out -- indicating, again, that someone may have left in a hurry. We've contacted sheriff's detectives for the latest.
Update, 3 p.m.: Sheriff's Lieutenant Dave Dolson says that although "it appears that there was no foul play involved" in Wilkins' death, investigators are "still looking for the car" as the L.A. County Coroner's Office conducts toxicology tests.
Dolson says locating the car will "help put some pieces together" -- including the possibility that she was with someone at the house before she died.