PENNGROVE (KPIX 5) — A murder mystery has shaken a small town in the North Bay.

An 84-year-old woman was found dead, her childhood home ransacked, and her killers took off with the very clue that might put police on their trail.

Neighbors describe 84-year-old Olga Dinelli as a sweet, church-going lady. They were shocked that police found her dead in her farmhouse in the rural town of Penngrove.

On Friday, investigators were in and out the house all day. A deputy stood sentry at the property’s entrance and police crime scene tape was still up.

Dinelli was born in this house in 1930. It’s where a family friend made the gruesome discovery on Thursday. She’d been the victim of what looked like a brutal murder. First they noticed the blood. Then, they saw her dead body in a reclining chair.

Normally Dinelli’s brother lives here, but he was out of town and police said he is not a suspect.

Downtown Penngrove hasn't changed much over the last 50 years. (Wikimedia Commons)

Downtown Penngrove hasn’t changed much over the last 50 years. (Wikimedia Commons)


Marv Augustine is one of the nearest neighbors. He was shocked.

“I heard about it this morning, I couldn’t believe it, I live a quarter-mile down the road.”

Augustine and Dinelli have been friends since childhood. “[It’s a] small town. I grew up here.”

He said Dinelli lived here her whole life, too.

“To live a long life and then to have this senseless, despicable tragedy beset on you and your family, that’s just horrific,” said Sgt. Cecile Focha of the Sonoma Co. Sheriff’s Office.

He said the house was “in complete disarray.”

A red Lexus, like the one pictured here, was missing from the victim's home.

A red Lexus, like the one pictured here, was missing from the victim’s home.


But there was one thing conspicuously missing — Dinelli’s red Lexus Coupe.

Police said the suspect may have used it as a getaway car. If that’s the case, it may be the key piece of evidence that will lead investigators to Dinelli’s killer.

Augustine is truly shaken by the loss of his childhood friend. “Just good people. I don’t know what happened. I’d like to know,” he said.

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