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62-Year-Old Woman Stabbed To Death While Walking Home From Ralphs

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A 62-year-old woman was stabbed to death just north of USC on her way home from the grocery store Monday night. Police are still looking for eyewitnesses and suspects.

Maria Elena Rivas was found near the intersection of Adams Boulevard and Catalina Avenue with stab wounds around 6:30 p.m. She was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. The LAPD says in a release that they suspect she was the victim of a robbery because her purse, wallet and belongings were nowhere to be found.

Rivas was spotted earlier on a surveillance camera carrying a large purse and wallet. Earlier she had taken a bus from her job to Ralphs, purchased groceries and was walking home when she was attacked on the sidewalk, the Los Angeles Times says.

A makeshift memorial has been placed where her body was found. Her family says they're baffled as well as devastated by the crime. Misael Contreras, Rivas' nephew, told CBS Los Angeles: “We’re at the bottom of the floor right now. She was like our right hand." He added, "It’s just a senseless crime. If she would have died of old age or sickness, we’d understand, but not like this."

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Another nephew of hers Matthew Ochoa told ABC 7, "If you just wanted her bag, just take it and run, did you really have to stab her and leave her there to die?"

Police told ABC 7 that they had few clues even though the murder happened during rush hour, and they're asking any eyewitnesses to come forward. Anyone with information is asked to contact South Bureau Criminal Gang Homicide investigators at (213) 485-4341.

"There was absolutely no reason why such an innocent lady walking home to her family should be killed in the street," said LAPD Capt. Peter Whittingham said.

Monday's stabbing wasn't far from where two USC graduate students were gunned down during a robbery in 2012 and where a USC student was beat to death this summer.