Death of woman found with stab wounds near Birch Aquarium no longer believed to be homicide

LA JOLLA, Calif. - San Diego police are no longer calling the death of a woman, found covered in stab wounds at the base of a ravine near Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, a homicide.

SDPD Lt. Jorge Duran told 10News based on evidence found at the scene, investigators now are referring to the case as a "suspicious death." Police will not reveal what that evidence is.

Landscapers discovered the woman behind a shed near the Scripps Oceanographic Institution at about 7:15 a.m. Monday.

One landscaper said he could not even tell if the woman was alive or dead. Police said the victim was found with multiple stab wounds.

According to officers, CPR was performed on the gravely injured woman at the scene. She was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where she was pronounced dead just after 8 a.m.

The woman, described as a heavy-set Hispanic in her 30s, had a jacket and purse with her, but carried no identification. No missing persons reports match her description, police said.

A large area of the canyon was cordoned off by police as they searched for clues.

"This is very shocking, of course," said Ellen Scott, a volunteer at Birch Aquarium. 

Scott regularly walks past the area where the woman was found, but said she was not concerned for her own safety because she stays on the sidewalk, which is well-lit.

Dog walker Terry Rothwell said she feels protected by the more than half-dozen animals by her side, but does not recommend people ever go in the canyons near UC San Diego alone.

"I have walked that canyon before and there are a lot of transients up in there," said Rothwell, who urged others to always be aware of their surroundings.

Police hope to identify the dead woman through fingerprint evidence.

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