Investigators search for 'vehicle of interest' in 83-year-old woman's slaying

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

Orange County Sheriff's investigators said they are searching for a "vehicle of interest" in connection with the slaying of an 83-year-old woman.

On Thursday, investigators said they are looking for a car seen in the area where Elena Ortega was killed.

According to investigators, two dark-skinned men were seen driving an older-model, red Dodge Neon in the area of the slaying between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Investigators believe the two men might have information in connection with the slaying.

They've received about 20 tips so far, investigators said.

Investigators said a house fire was intentionally set to cover up the killing of Ortega Wednesday morning.

Ortega's body was found inside her Turnbull Drive home by firefighters, just before 7 a.m. Wednesday after a neighbor spotted smoke and called 911.

Some neighbors told WFTV they heard loud pops at the house that sounded like gunshots, but investigators said Ortega showed signs of blunt force trauma, leaving authorities to believe she was dead before the fire started.

"To do this to this lady, she didn't deserve it. She was a beautiful lady," said neighbor Sarah Collins.

Neighbor John Collins told Channel 9's Kathi Belich that he saw the red car driving up and down the road before noon on Wednesday.

 Collins said he has seen the car parked at nearly Turnbull Park several times over the past three months.   

"Two or three days out of the week," said Collins. 

 Collins said he was devastated by the Ortega's death. He said he used to mow her lawn.

Orange County investigators went door to door with fliers Wedesday night, trying to get any information about who could have killed her.

Investigators haven't said how they think Ortega died.

Neighbors said Ortega was too frail to fight off any attacker she may have encountered, and used a walker to get around.

"She was very, not senile, but very fragile," said Collins.

It was because of her condition, neighbors said, that her husband moved into an assisted living facility within the last year, and she often took the bus to visit him.

Investigators said Ortega's daughter had spoken to her Tuesday night and said things were fine.

"This is a tragic death for this neighborhood. This is going to shock this neighborhood, that an elderly woman living in this home, that something possibly terrible has happened," said Jane Watrel of the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

An autopsy report may shed some light on Ortega's death.  However, officials said they most likely will not be released Thursday.

Investigators said they do not have any suspects in the slaying.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS (8477) or the Orange County Sheriff's Office at 407-836-HELP (4357).