$5,000 reward offered in elderly woman's death

Elena Ortega's Orlando home set ablaze after she was killed, deputies say

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orange County deputies are offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who knows what happened to an elderly woman found dead in her burned home.

The woman, identified as 83-year-old Elena Ortega, was found dead Wednesday morning after her Turnbull Drive house was apparently set ablaze.  The Orange County Sheriff's Office is investigating her death as a homicide and unrelated to the fire.

Deputies also said on Thursday that they are searching for a red Dodge Neon possibly connected to Ortega's death.

Deputies passed out flyers Wednesday night with a photo of Ortega, who had obvious signs of trauma to her body.  Deputies said her death was not related to the fire, which appears to have been deliberately set.

"This is a tragic death for this neighborhood. This is going to shock this neighborhood that an elderly female living in this home, something possibly terrible has happened," Orange County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jane Watrel said. "Last night, her daughter spoke to her, so her family had contact with her. We know she was alive last evening."

Officials said the woman, who was married for 65 years, lived alone in the house and relied on a walker to get around.

"I took care of her, I brought her everything, took her to the doctors, everything. She didn't drive," said her friend, Rina Del Castillo.

A family friend said Ortega leaves behind two children, including a daughter who lives in Lake Mary.

Several neighbors told Local 6, they heard what sounded like gunshots in the early morning hours, but deputies have not confirmed if it is related.

Autopsy results are expected Thursday.

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