County of Los Angeles, Department of Coroner. Investigators Narrative.
Name of the deceased: Sarah Lafayette. Age: 63 years. Date: January 12, 1977
Scene description: The decedents residence is a one-bedroom apartment located in the South-East corner of a 30-unit apartment complex in Los Feliz, CA. The home is in disarray. Reportedly this is the room the decedent had been in when she entered cardiac arrest. There is a weathered couch, and a table with numerous medicine bottles on it. On and below the table are boxes of gauze, used and unused, alongside piles of celebrity magazines, mail, and tabloid newspapers. On the couch next to the body are bandages, lotions, and three pairs of small scissors. The couch is stained with what appears to be food and dried blood. Next to the decedent is a pale blue cotton blanket reportedly where the 15-year old daughter of the decedent was found protecting the body.
Evidence: I collected six empty and half-empty bottles of nail polish which were scattered near the body and blanket.
Decedent body Examination: I performed an external body examination at the scene. The decedent was wearing a pink robe, tattered at the sleeves, and stained with blood near the arms and cuffs. The body is that of an adult female appearing to be approximately sixty years old. Eyes blue. Hair pale blond, almost white. The decedent appears to have been in poor health. The hands were contorted and each finger on both hands appears to have been gnawed to either the first or second knuckle. Lividity was consistent with a supine position.
Informant/Witness statements:The following information is preliminary pending further investigation by the handling law enforcement agency.
I spoke with Deputy Vandell at scene and he told me the following: On Tues, 1/12/77 at approximately 1515 hours, a resident of the complex called Police to report a smell and sobbing sound coming from this unit. Upon entry, the decedent was prone on the floor with a thin, blonde-haired 15-year old female beside her, who upon entry proceeded to protect the body and kick at officers. 15 year-old female was later confirmed as daughter of decedent Lafayette. Upon restraint, Officers noticed the young female was “wearing” the fingers of decedent, three of which fell off during ensuing struggle to detain, revealing daughter to have significantly lacerated fingers and nails of her own. Daughter tore at, and attempted to scratch at deputies, but only smeared their uniforms with blood. Daughter calmed and proceeded to repeat, “Nasty habit” numerous times in a low monotone. At approximately 1540, daughter was removed by EMT and transported to County Memorial. Pending family confirmation, body of decedent was positively identified as that of Sarah Constance Lafayette from visual comparison to photograph on California State Cosmetology License, found at scene.
Clearing from scene, Deputy Vandell learned from neighbor and property manager that daughter had recently been released from County rehabilitative care for self-harm and/or suicide, having injured her fingers and nails to a degree that required multiple hospitalizations. Upon inquiry, neighbors informed deputies that decedent parent, Sarah Lafayette was witnessed on multiple occasions and/or heard to chastise daughter for “biting her nails”.
Witnesses could not confirm whose nails Sarah Lafayette was referring to, the daughters or her own.