Deputies: People know who killed elderly Orange Co. woman, too afraid to come forward

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County sheriff deputies believe someone knows who murdered Elena Ortega, but that person may be afraid to come forward.

Investigators placed a Crimeline sign on the lawn of the Turnbull Drive home where the 83-year-old woman was killed and her home set on fire.

Detectives are questioning two persons of interest, but have not charged them with Ortega's murder.

Her photo is back up in the neighborhood, where detectives said they've learned there are people working very hard to make sure the killing is never solved.

Elena Ortega was 83 years old, a widow in poor health, living alone. She was found dead Sept. 18 after someone broke into her home, brutally murdered her, then set fire to her home to hide the crime.

Detectives are working leads, but are running into the same problem over and over: potential witnesses who they say won't talk because they're afraid, and someone is working hard to keep the neighborhood from talking.

"There are very credible threats of physical harm to be done to people if they cooperate with our investigation," Detective Ben Thorpe of the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

Detectives have identified two people of interest in jail on unrelated charges, but so far they have not been connected to the killing of Mrs. Ortega.

Detectives said they've learned a lot; what they need now is someone to step up with specific information.

"I truly believe that people will get tired of the violence and they will get fed up and eventually they will come forward and say something," Thorpe said.

Detectives said anyone who's been threatened can call Crimeline without fear or stop by the sheriff's office and speak directly with investigators.