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The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest Thursday in connection to a homicide victim found at the site of a suspicious house fire in Castro Valley on Oct. 18. Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the death of Barbara Latiolais, 58, who lived at 2431 San Carlos Ave. with her longtime boyfriend Michael Rice, 60, a retired San Francisco firefighter. Firefighters discovered Latiolais’ body inside the Castro Valley home that burned in a suspicious fire early in the morning on Oct 18. Her body had been brutally assaulted, an Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesman said.
Alameda County fire crews responded to a one-alarm fire at the single-family home at 12:15 a.m. on Oct. 18 and brought the fire under control within 20 minutes, fire officials said. Firefighters found Latiolais’ body inside the home while fighting the blaze, according to fire officials. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene when fire investigators determined the blaze was suspicious because an accelerant was used. Nelson said it was unclear whether Latiolais died from the injuries she sustained when she was beaten or if she died from injuries stemming from the fire or from a combination of the two, but he said it’s clear she was beaten before the fire started.
Nelson said the suspect or suspects in the case stole valuables from the home and investigators believe they set the fire to cover up their attack on Latiolais, their thefts, or both. There was no obvious sign the suspect or suspects forced their way into the home, Nelson said. Nelson said investigators believe the suspect or suspects stole the couple’s black 2006 Volvo after the fire because it was found abandoned several hours later at the end of Brookdale Boulevard in Castro Valley, about a mile from the couple’s home. Investigators asked for the public’s help in locating a man who was seen near the Volvo.
Nelson described the man as being about 17 to 19 years old, of Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent and about 5-foot-5. He said the man had dark spiky hair and was wearing dark clothing. Nelson said anyone who has information about the man or the case should call the sheriff’s office at (510) 667-3636.
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