The brutal murder of retired high-school teacher Janice Somple last Thursday was only the second murder in quiet, suburban Simi Valley over the last two years — but it was also one of SoCal's strangest.
Somple, only 65 years old, was found beaten and stabbed to death in her own home on pleasant Carmen Drive. Her friends, family, neighbors and former English students were shocked: Who would have wanted to kill this “kind, loving” mother of two?
After an initial investigation, however, ABC7 reported that police detectives found evidence Somple may have been “deliberately targeted.” Cops revealed that they'd be looking outside the Simi Valley area for her killer.
They didn't have to go far.
Today, Simi Valley police announced at a news conference that their suspect, 66-year-old Paul Porter of Scottsdale, Arizona, was pulled from the wreckage of a traffic accident a couple miles from Somple's house on the same day she was murdered.
He was rushed to the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office, where officials confirmed: He had died from a heart attack.
If that's not instant karma, we don't know what is.
Porter was driving a white van, reports CBS LA — one that matched witness descriptions of a vehicle that had pulled away from Somple's house right before her current boyfriend discovered her body.
And, announced Sergeant Craig Duran, “the investigation also determined that Mr. Porter and Janice had a previous dating relationship over 15 years ago. At this stage of the investigation, we believe they parted ways in an amicable manner.”
Somple lived in the 1500 block of Carmen Drive, in a neighborhood where residents say, to be sure, “nothing like this has happened before”:
That's an understatement. Simi Valley is known as the place L.A. County cops go to live, to escape all the urban crime they're faced with patrolling on the day-to-day — making the town of around 126,000 even safer still.
Somple reportedly taught English at Newbury and Westlake high schools in the Ventura County School District until retiring in 2008. Here's a piece of her glowing obituary on Legacy.com:
“Janice Kay Somple, award-winning teacher, beloved mother and friend, passed away on May 31st, 2012. A California native, Janice was a resident of Simi Valley for nearly 40 years, and an active and respected member of the Simi Valley United Methodist Church. She had many friends in the church, in the community and around the world. An avid traveler, festival-attender, writer, seamstress, dancer, independent film-watcher, reader, shopper, theatre-buff and incredible pie baker, she will always be remembered for her warm smile, laughter, love for life, giving heart and passion for UCLA football.
With a Masters Degree in Secondary Education from CSUN, and Bachelors Degree in Journalism and English from CSULA, Janice taught locally for over 30 years at Westlake and Newbury Park High Schools. In her career, she was honored with numerous awards including the prestigious W.H.O. award for teaching excellence.”
We also found an April 1999 piece she wrote for the Los Angeles Times on the importance of reading to kids, and the merits of the Read Across America program in particular.
Her memorial will be held at the church this Saturday at 1 p.m.